Monday, May 28, 2012

Evans finishes 6th in 800 at Olympic tuneup meet

IRVINE, Calif. (AP) ? Janet Evans finished sixth in the 800-meter freestyle Sunday at the Speedo Grand Challenge in the former Olympic champion's final tuneup meet before the Olympic trials next month when she'll try to make the U.S. team at 40.

Haley Anderson, who also competes in open water swimming, won the race in 8 minutes, 33.65 seconds. The 20-year-old swimmer who swims at Southern California will try to make the London Olympics in an open-water qualifier June 9 in Portugal.

Anderson raced former Olympian Kate Ziegler to the wall, with Ziegler touching second in 8:33.97.

"She really pushed it so that made me get in an extra gear," Anderson said.

Ziegler won the 200 and 400 freestyles earlier in the three-day meet, and will try to qualify for her second straight Olympic team at the trials in Omaha.

"I wanted to be a little faster than that," she said.

Megan Rankin, an 18-year-old who trains with Evans, was third.

Evans finished in 8:49.36. She stayed close to the top three in the early stages of the 16-lap race before fading in the second half of the eight-woman race. She was the first woman to win back-to-back Olympic titles in the 800 in 1988 and '92.

"It was a little disappointing, but I think she's tired from training," said Mark Schubert, Evans' longtime coach.

During her comeback, Schubert has tinkered slightly with Evans' famed windmill stroke in which her head and shoulders come up out of the water more than most swimmers.

"We tried to get her head down and get her to swim in and out of her turns a little better, which she's doing," Schubert said. "You don't make huge changes. It's just trying to figure out the right things to do the last four or five weeks before trials."

Three-time Olympian Jason Lezak won the 100 free in 49.96, the only man under 50 seconds in the final. He carried 2-year-old son Ryan on the awards podium.

"I had a real solid first 50 and coming off the wall, I did what I wanted to do," he said. "The last 15 was a little painful, but with rest I'll be able to take it out faster, easier and come back stronger. I was 50.4 at the previous meet and I really wanted to be under 50, so that was good."

British Olympian Ellen Gandy won the 200 butterfly in 2:09.83 to go with her victory in the 100 fly on Saturday. She clutched a check for $600 covering her earnings in her first U.S. meet. She also earned gift cards to a coffee shop and a bookstore.

"I really wanted to get an iPhone, so this will go nicely toward that," she said, adding that she plans to buy the phone before she returns to Australia, where she lives with her family and trains.

Nick D'Arcy, considered a strong medal contender for Australia's Olympic team, easily won the 200 fly in 1:57.16, a meet record. He was the only swimmer to go under 2 minutes in the race.

"For the kind of pressure we're under at the moment training-wise, it's a pretty good swim," he said. "It's about where I expected to be at."

D'Arcy missed the 100 fly final Saturday night because he was in the restroom with an upset stomach when the finalists were called to the starting blocks. He was disqualified in that event, but wasn't prevented from swimming Sunday because the races were running ahead of the estimated timeline.

"It was pretty unfortunate," he said. "We're over here to get in some good racing, but I did a time trial instead and went a 53.7 which is a good time for me, so I was still pretty happy about that."

Earlier this month, Australian Olympic Committee President John Coates defended D'Arcy's selection amid accusations of a secret deal to put him on the team. He missed the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2009 world championships after being convicted of assaulting former swimmer Simon Cowley in a Sydney bar in March 2008.

D'Arcy was ordered to pay $370,000 in damages and costs, but declared bankruptcy. He earned $300 for his win at this meet.

Cowley, whose face had to be surgically rebuilt after the assault, said in a report in several Australian newspapers that Swimming Australia was involved in a secret deal to allow D'Arcy back into the team despite ethical concerns.

As he was asked about Cowley's comments, D'Arcy told a reporter, "Careful." He then brushed past, saying, "Yeah, thanks for your time."

Vlad Morozov, a former Russian national team member, won the 100 backstroke in a meet record 54.67 over former Australian Olympian Ashley Delaney. He touched in 54.74.

Four swimmers instead of the usual eight made the finals except in the distance events at this meet as a way to get athletes to swim faster in the preliminaries. The swimmer with the fastest time going into the final spins a wheel to determine the prize money that goes to the winner. Second and third-place finishers receive nominal amounts and all four finalists receive a gift card of their choice.

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