INDIANAPOLIS - The local flavor on the U.S. Olympic swim team might extend beyond Michael Phelps.
Two collegians with roots in Baltimore will swim finals tonight at the U.S. trials. Beth Botsford, a gold medalist in 1996, has to pick up the pace to qualify in the women's 200-meter backstroke, while Tommy Hannan will have the fourth seed in the men's 100 butterfly.
Hannan had the third-fastest time of the day at the Indiana University Natatorium, as he lowered his personal best to 53.43 seconds in the morning's preliminaries. He touched in 53.51 in last night's semifinals, but most of his competition also slowed down, and Hannan said that a runner-up spot that would get him to Sydney, Australia, next month is within his reach.
"The thing I have to do is not get too nervous, and just get out and swim my race," Hannan said. "I'm not worried. We're all going to go faster in the final, and I'm going to be there."
A 1998 graduate of Mount St. Joseph's, Hannan is representing his grass-roots club, the Eagle Swim Team, and the University of Texas, where he'll be a junior. After a soggy effort in the preliminaries of the 100 freestyle Saturday morning, Longhorns coach Eddie Reese advised Hannan to pull out of the 200 individual medley Sunday, and place his entire focus on the 100 fly.
"I had a disappointing morning swim [in the 100 freestyle], and Coach thought I would be better off worrying about this one," Hannan said.
Reese, whose program won the NCAA men's title in March, can't go wrong in tonight's final.
The top seed is Texas recruit Ian Crocker, a 17-year-old from Portland, Maine - a state that doesn't have a single 50-meter pool. He set a trials record of 52.82 in the preliminaries. The other semifinal was won by Bryan Jones, who completed his eligibility with the Longhorns this year.
Botsford will be the sixth seed in the 200 breaststroke. She was timed in 2:15.42 in the preliminaries, and 2:15.80 in the semifinals. Lindsay Benko and Amanda Adkins, the fastest semifinalists, are on the cusp of breaking 2:13, and Botsford was asked if she'll have to do the same to gain another Olympic berth.
"It'll have to be that fast," said Botsford, who won the 100 backstroke at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. "I like the 200 more now. I can get relaxed, get into it."
A 1999 graduate of Garrison Forest School, Botsford came to prominence while a member of the North Baltimore Aquatic Club, which this year will send the 15-year-old Phelps to Australia as the youngest member of the men's team since 1932. Botsford has moved on to the University of Arizona and the Hillenbrand Aquatic Club in Tucson.
Amanda Beard, a teammate of Botsford's who also won gold four years ago, earned an Olympic return in the 200 breaststroke. She was second to Kristy Kowal, a native of Reading, Pa., who was third at the trials in the 100 breaststroke both this year and in 1996. All Kowal did last night was finish in 2:24.75, which broke the American record set by Towson's Anita Nall eight years ago.
"Thanks for not losing faith in me," Kowal said.
In 1996, Jenny Thompson's participation in the Olympics was limited to relays. Her plate will be so full in Sydney, she has withdrawn from the final women's event, the 50 freestyle.
Thompson announced those plans last night, after she got her second win over Stanford Swimming club rival Dara Torres. Thompson, who edged Torres in the 100 butterfly last week, beat her in the 100 free last night, and in the process lowered her own American record to 54.07.
Torres, 33, was second in 54.62. They were followed by Ashley Tappin, 25, and 1996 heroine Amy Van Dyken, 27. With Thompson also being 27, the average age of the U.S. 400-meter relay will be 28. So much for youth being served in swimming.
On the men's side, Tom Dolan and Lenny Krayzelburg posted their second victories of the trials.
Dolan added the 200 individual medley to his 400 IM win. Tom Wilkens was an upset third-place finisher in the longer race, and was a satisfied second last night. Boonsboro's Beau Wiebel, who came up through the Monocacy Aquatic Club, was sixth.
Beaten by Aaron Peirsol in the semifinals, world-record holder Krayzelburg cleaned up in the final of the 200 backstroke, as his time of 1:57.31 gave him more than a half-second spread on the 17-year-old.
What: U.S. Olympic swimming trials
Where: Indiana University Natatorium, Indianapolis
When: Through tomorrow