Schumacher gets feet wet with relay leg Former Bowie resident subs for Dolan, does PR

Atlanta Olympics

July 22, 1996|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

ATLANTA -- Former Bowie High swimmer Brad Schumacher was one of a handful of people in the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center that didn't want to see Tom Dolan swim in the 4 x 200-meter freestyle relay last night.

There was Schumacher. His friends and family. The other competitors. That was about it.

Dolan is one of the darlings of the XXVI Olympiad and he tentatively was penciled in to swim a leg of the relay after his gold-medal performance in the 400-meter individual medley, but the coaching staff decided to scratch him about an hour before the race.

Schumacher took the third leg and swam a personal-best 1 minute, 49.48 seconds, as the U.S. team won its second gold medal of the night. The Americans finished nearly three seconds ahead of Sweden and Germany, and Schumacher could not believe his good fortune.

"I was the last guy to be picked," said Schumacher, who graduated from Bowie High in 1992 and swims for Tiger Aquatics and the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif. "I found out at 5: 30 this evening. I was thinking about it all day. I was prepared, but I didn't think I would get picked. I tried to take a nap, but I couldn't rest at all."

He had swum in the qualifying heat that put the United States into the fourth lane for the final, but Dolan is the country's best freestyle swimmer. He would have swum in the final if he had not had a race earlier in the program.

"We didn't know how Tom would be, because of his asthma," said U.S. assistant coach Jon Urbancek. "We didn't want to take a chance, because if he didn't feel great, we wouldn't have been able to change."

If they had entered Dolan and he had experienced respiratory problems, the relay would have had to be forfeited, so the coaching staff turned to Schumacher, who turned in the biggest performance of his swimming career.

"If you would have told me two years ago that I would be sitting here in this situation today, I would have said you were crazy," he said. "This is the most incredible thing that's ever happened to me."

Pub Date: 7/22/96

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