Another golden moment brings cheers for NBAC Botsford's teammates, including Nall, root her on

Atlanta Olympics

July 23, 1996|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,SUN STAFF

It was like 1984 all over again. It was like Theresa Andrews revisited.

Same event. Same coach. Same seeding for the final. Same nationality of the top two seeds -- both Americans. Same upset.

In the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, Andrews, coached by Murray Stephens of the North Baltimore Aquatic Club, won the 100-meter backstroke after qualifying second for the final behind Betsy Mitchell.

Twelve years later, NBAC's Beth Botsford, coached by Stephens, won the 100 backstroke last night in Atlanta after qualifying second behind Whitney Hedgepeth.

The lobby of the Meadowbrook Aquatic and Fitness Center, where more than 50 of Botsford's teammates and their families gathered to watch her on a rented big-screen TV, erupted with applause when Botsford upset Hedgepeth for the gold medal.

"It was exciting," said NBAC's 1992 triple medalist Anita Nall, who failed to make this year's Olympic team. "Great for her, great for the country. She's the first U.S. woman to win gold. It was great to watch her, but a little upsetting, too, but that part of my life is over with."

Botsford, a Garrison Forest sophomore who turned 15 on May 21 -- the day Stephens turned 50 -- was aided immeasurably in her medal quest by pieces of tile installed at NBAC's practice facility at Meadowbrook by general manager John Cadigan at Stephens' request.

"We put the tiles 15 meters from the start on the sides of the pool," Cadigan said. "A backstroker can kick underwater only the first 15 meters before coming to the surface or else is disqualified. NBAC coaches stood at those tiles at practice after practice so Beth could see them.

"It really paid off. Two years ago, Beth was a very poor starter off the wall. In the preliminaries yesterday, she was first off the wall TTC and had a half-body length's lead at the start as a result."

NBAC assistant coach Keith Schertle said flatly: "Her start was the best in the pool in the morning."

Just as flatly, Nall said after the final: "Beth won because of her great start and underwater swimming."

Cadigan and Schertle considered it "a good sign" that Botsford's time in the prelims was a half-second faster than her time at the Olympic trials, although not the fastest of her life.

When they thought again about signs last night, an even more intoxicating one occurred to them: Botsford's best event actually is the 200 backstroke, scheduled for Thursday.

Pub Date: 7/23/96

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