COLLEGE PARK - His head under water, his lead shrinking, Ed Moses heard the crowd roar.
As favorite in the 100-meter breaststroke after his silver-medal performance in the Sydney Olympics, Moses knew most at the University of Maryland for the FINA/USA World Cup last night had come to see him, the hero from another Washington suburb, Burke, Va.. The time had come to deliver.
Moses didn't disappoint. He held off Canadian Morgan Knabe for a gold medal with a strong final lap, posting a solid time of 1 minute, 6.06 seconds.
"What do you do when you're in the water swimming and you hear something like that?" Moses said. "When there are so many people pulling for you, it gets the adrenaline pumping."
The FINA/USA World Cup, which features top swimmers from 25 countries and several colleges, was Moses' first action since he won the silver medal in the 100 breaststroke and a gold on the 400 medley relay team in Australia.
"This meet is a very important meet as the first race of the season to see how my strength is developing and work on some technique," Moses said. "It's something where you come in, and you really want to put some good swims together to start the season."
Moses' life is just starting to return to normal after the mad rush of the Olympics. Everywhere he went for weeks, people wanted interviews, handshakes, and his time. Now, it's back to the pool for Moses, with an eye on the future.
"You have to step back and stop saying, `Well, I won the gold medal and a silver,'" Moses said. "You have to look at the future and say, `What's next?'". In addition to his victory in the 100 breaststroke last night, Moses also won the 50 and 200 breaststroke. He won Performance of the Meet, awarded to the swimmer with the most points.
Last night's meet wasn't as perfect a homecoming for Baltimore native Michael Phelps. The 15-year-old sophomore at Towson High became the youngest member of the men's U.S. Olympic swim team in 68 years this summer and turned heads with his fifth-place finish in Sydney in the 200 butterfly.
And though he won that event Wednesday, he was disqualified last night for a false start in the 200 individual medley and finished third in the 100 butterfly.
"I am disappointed I got DQ'd, but there's nothing I can do about it," Phelps said. "Being here in front of the home crowd was still awesome. It feels really good."
Phelps said his big goal right now is to break the world record in the 200 butterfly at the spring nationals in Austin, Texas.
The meet's most dominant performance came from Slovakia's Martina Maravcova, who won six events, some by fairly safe margins. Her 200 freestyle time of 1:56.14 Wednesday set a U.S. Open record. Moravcova was the silver medalist in the 200 freestyle in Sydney.
Amy Balcerzak broke a U.S. Open record, as well (31.19 seconds in the 50 breaststroke).
Germany's Jirka Letzin also was impressive, winning the 200 individual medley in 1:58.92, nearly five seconds in front of Sweden's Micke Jacobson (2:03.78).