U.S. Swim Trials : Mitchell Ends U.S. Drought With World Record

Associated Press

Betsy Mitchell became the first American woman to set a world record in swimming since 1981, shattering a two-year-old mark with a 2:08.60 in the 200-meter backstroke Friday at the U.S. Swimming World Championship Trials.

Mitchell, of Marietta, Ohio., easily surpassed the time of 2:09.91 set in 1982 by Cornelia Sirch, one of the East German contingent that has dominated women’s swimming for most of the 1980s.

Mitchell, the silver medalist in the 100 backstroke in the Los Angeles Olympics, took command Friday night at the 100-meter point and pulled away in the final 50 meters. Holly Green of Gainesville, Fla., was second in 2:13.01.


“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” Mitchell said. “I don’t keep track of other people’s scores. I don’t plan my races by how other people swim. It’s too confusing.

“I have the philosophy that it’s just little ol’ me.”

Mitchell earlier had set an American record in the 100 backstroke. Four world records and nine American records have been set in this six-day meet held to determine the U.S. squad for the World Championship competition in Madrid, Spain, beginning Aug. 17. The first and second finishers in each event earn spots on the U.S. team.

Earlier, University of California senior Matt Biondi of Moraga, Calif., set world standards in the 100 and 50 freestyle and Pablo Morales of Santa Clara, Calif., broke the 100 butterfly record.

Morales broke another American record Friday night when he won the 200 individual medley in a time of 2:02.23. That replaced the 2:02.68 Bill Barrett set in 1983.

The other winners Friday night included Mary T. Meagher of Louisville, Ky., in the women’s 200 butterfly; Jenna Johnson of Santa Rosa, Calif., in the women’s 50 freestyle and Matt Cetlinski of Lake Worth, Fla., in the men’s 1,500 freestyle.

Meagher was the last American woman to set a world record, when she established the top times in the 100 and 200 butterfly. Meagher came within .43 of bettering her own record in the 200 butterfly Friday night, going the distance in 2:06.39. Kara McGrath of Birmingham, Mich., was second in 2:10.40.


Johnson set a meet record in the 50 freestyle with a time of 25.69, beating the 25.95 by Lisa Dorman in the morning preliminaries. Dorman, of Walnut Creek, Calif., swam a 25.72 in the final.

Cetlinski established a meet record of 15:12.73 in the 1,500 freestyle, topping the 15:17.81 set by George DiCarlo in 1982. Dan Jorgensen of San Diego was second in 15:18.05.