Phelps, Hannan make their bids for Worlds

Baltimore Olympians competing in nationals

Swimming

March 27, 2001|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

Last September, Baltimoreans Michael Phelps and Tommy Hannan represented the United States at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia. They will spend the rest of this week at the Spring Nationals in Austin, Texas, attempting to earn berths in the biggest meet of this year, the world championships that will be held in Japan this summer.

The Spring Nationals start today and run through Sunday at the University of Texas, in Hannan's home pool.

Phelps, a 15-year-old sophomore at Towson High, was the youngest male to swim for the United States in the Olympics since 1932, and he will resume his chase of Tom Malchow in the 200 butterfly. Malchow, the world-record-holder, won the event in Sydney. Phelps finished fifth with a time that would have won gold in Atlanta four years earlier.

Malchow set an American short-course record at a World Cup meet in Stockholm, Sweden, in late January, when Phelps was second in the 200 butterfly, the 200 backstroke and 200 individual medley. He went to the Olympic trials as an unknown last August and is prepared for much more attention in Austin this week.

"It's going to be different," Phelps said. "More people watch you and want to talk to you. I have to keep that to a minimum, and do what I have to do, which is qualify for the world championships. Hopefully, I can break 1:55. Breaking the world record is our goal."

Phelps swam a personal best of 1 minute, 56.50 seconds in the Olympic final. Malchow's world record is 1:55.18.

Catonsville's Hannan, who attended Mount St. Joseph, is a junior at Texas. He reached the semifinals of the 100 butterfly at the Olympics, then swam the preliminaries of the 400 medley relay and earned a gold medal. Hannan helped the Longhorns repeat at the NCAA championships last weekend, when he was on the foursome that set an American record in the 400 freestyle relay. Hannan was second to teammates in the 100 fly and 200 individual medley.

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