Stephens gets swim post for Olympics Loyola High coach one of four added to U.S. staff

Botsford, Metzler to profit

Mentor also to work with rest of team

March 13, 1996|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

INDIANAPOLIS - North Baltimore Aquatic Club coach Murray Stephens has sent his share of swimmers to the Olympic Games, including two more this year, but not until yesterday did he know what it really felt like to be named to an Olympic team.

Stephens, 49, was one of four coaches added to the staff of the U.S. team that will compete in the centennial Olympiad. He'll go to Atlanta and will be able to continue working with new NBAC Olympians Beth Botsford and Whitney Metzler, as well as the other members of the women's team.

"Obviously, it's a very prestigious position," said Stephens, who also is the head swimming coach and an English teacher at Loyola High School. "Once you've been an Olympic coach, everything else is just layered over that."

It is an honor perhaps Stephens should have rated earlier. He coached two-time gold medalist Theresa Andrews (1984) and helped 15-year-old Anita Nall become one of the stars of the 1992 Games. It is an honor he shares with all of his swimmers and with a family that patiently has accepted the long hours away from home that are required to train world championship-caliber swimmers.

"I know it may sound sappy, but I feel proud for my club and the swimmers and for my children and wife who have to put up with this all the time," Stephens said. "It's nice for the people who are the support blocks and who also sacrifice a lot of time and effort to be able to share this with me."

Unfortunately, the emotionally charged atmosphere of the Olympic trials did not allow Stephens to fully enjoy the moment. He was hoping to send one more young swimmer to the Olympics last night, but 15-year-old Whitney Phelps struggled to a sixth-place finish in the women's 200-meter butterfly and failed to qualify. He also was hoping that Nall would crank up a big race earlier in the meet and win a place on the team, but it wasn't to be.

"When you have Whitney and Anita, who are hard-working and hard-nosed swimmers that our younger kids look up to, and they don't get there, you have to feel a little sense of loss," Stephens said. "But that's part of the game."

Phelps was considered a solid candidate to make the team, perhaps NBAC's top candidate going into the trials, but she swam a 2: 14.45, well behind her lifetime best and slower than her preliminary heat. UCLA's Annette Salmeen won the final in 2: 12.39, and Trina Jackson finished second to qualify for her third event.

The final night of competition produced another handful of interesting and sometimes emotional storylines:

Multi-medal candidate Tom Dolan failed to become the first male swimmer to win four events at the trials since Mark Spitz in 1972. He finished seventh in the 200-meter backstroke. Brad Bridgewater won the race in 1: 59.16 to qualify for his first Olympiad and Tripp Schwenk finished second to qualify in his second event.

TC Four-time Olympic medalist Summer Sanders failed to qualify in the women's 200-meter butterfly and indicated that she will retire for good this time. Curl-Burke 26-year-old Michelle Griglione finished out of the top two and failed to reach the Olympics in her fourth trip to the trials.

Colorado's Amy Van Dyken narrowly missed her own American record (25.03) in the women's 50-meter freestyle, finishing in 25.17. She barely outtouched Georgia 28-year-old Angel Martino. Van Dyken and Martino have qualified together in three events, Van Dyken finishing in two of the three finals.

Club Wolverine's Carlton Bruner won the final race of the meet, swimming the 1,500-meter freestyle in 15: 12.85. Virginia 23-year-old Peter Wright finished second. Stephens and Gregg Troy of the Bolles Sharks joined an Olympic women's coaching staff that already included head coach Richard Quick of Stanford University and assistant Mark Schubert of USC.

"I think this is very important for club swimming," Stephens said, "because Gregg also runs a club team, though he also has a school club team. We have pretty much a pure club team. It's important to show other club coaches that if you put together a good program you can have age-group champions and Olympians. I also think it's important for Maryland swimming."

It's also going to be important for Botsford and Metzler, who will have the benefit of working with their personal coach during the Olympics. Contact between personal coaches and Olympians is limited. Michigan/Club Wolverine coach Jon Urbanchek and Auburn University coach David Marsh joined the men's coaching staff.

WOMEN 200 butterfly

1, Annette Salmeen, Ann Arbor, Mich., 2 minutes, 12.39 seconds. 2, Trina Jackson, Jacksonville, Fla., 2: 12.89. 3, Jean Ellis Todisco, Lynnfield, Mass., 2: 12.97. 4, Misty Hyman, Phoenix, 2: 13.16. 5, Michelle Griglione, Alexandria, Va., 2: 13.64. 6, Whitney Phelps, Baltimore, 2: 14.45. 7, Lauren Stinnett, Reston, Va., 2: 14.73. 8, Summer Sanders, Roseville, Calif., 2: 15.32.

50 freestyle

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