NBAC athletes make big splash

11 qualify for nationals

Phelps wins three events, set for three more today


June 17, 2002|By Travis Haney | Travis Haney,SUN STAFF

Breathe now while the breathing is good.

That's what Bob Bowman, coach of the North Baltimore Aquatic Club, has been impressing on the minds of 14 of his young swimmers all weekend.

Even though about 200 of NBAC's 250 swimmers took part in the club's June Long Course Championships, a five-day event that concludes today at Meadowbrook Aquatic Center, only a handful need to start thinking about their oxygen intake.

That's because those 14 will travel to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Saturday for a three-week altitude training program, designed to build the endurance of NBAC's best.

Michael Phelps, the 16-year-old Rodgers Forge resident who competed in the 2000 Olympics and is a world champion in the 200-meter butterfly, said with no real distractions he'll benefit greatly from the mountain training experience.

"It will be a lot of swimming and nothing else. No TV, no nothing. Just a lot of the pool," said Phelps, who turned professional last fall and will be a senior at Towson High in the fall. "It's a good chance for a lot of us to just get mentally focused and where we need to be."

Individually this past weekend, Phelps won the 200 individual medley in 2:05.76. He also beat out Jamie Barone in the 200 breaststroke. Then, he beat Aaron Krause in the 100 backstroke. He has three races today, including the 200 butterfly, his best event.

The ultimate goal of those working on their times is the U.S. Summer Nationals, from Aug. 13 to 18 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

"We've got 11 of them qualified [for the nationals]," Bowman said. "We just need to get those other three in, and I am sure we will."

Many swimmers turned in near national-caliber times this past weekend. Included in that group is the 400-medley relay quartet of Krause (backstroke), Barone (breaststroke), Phelps (butterfly) and Adam Kerpelman (freestyle), which swam its first-ever relay together yesterday 3:51.49, 30 seconds faster than the next closest team.

"Each of those guys is good at their individual stroke, so when they get together, they do pretty well," Bowman said, adding that their initial time would probably receive points at the national meet, a sign of things to come.

"That's what is so exciting about it. We feel really good about how we did today and we just started," said Barone, who graduated from Loyola College this month. "After some training in the next month, there's no telling what we can do."

Kerpelman races for the University of Virginia swim team, and Krause swims for Towson University.

In bringing the talent together this summer, it's the first NBAC men's relay team with a solid chance to make the national meet in more than a decade. "This is the first guys team we've had in a long, long time," Bowman said. "Usually it's our girls teams that do so well."

Anne Marie Botek, Courtney Francik, Kelly Peloquin and Tiffany Dotson won the 400 relay yesterday in 4:38.62.

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