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SWIMMING : U.S. OPEN CHAMPIONSHIPS : Wagstaff Sweeps Backstroke Events

From Associated Press

Janie Wagstaff won the 100-meter backstroke in the U. S. Open Swimming championships on Saturday, giving the 16-year-old a sweep of the two backstroke events for the second consecutive year.

Wagstaff, a high school junior from Shawnee Mission, Kan., who emerged as the top backstroker in the United States in the past year after the retirement of Betsy Mitchell, won her race in 1 minute 3.43 seconds. Lea Loveless was second in 1:03.43 after leading at the midway point.

Wagstaff, who swims for the Kansas City Blazers, has some big goals as she prepares for January’s world championships in Perth, Australia--and a possible meeting with Hungary’s Kristina Egerszegi, currently ranked No. 1 in the world in the backstroke.

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“Hopefully, by the time I retire I’ll have at least one world record,” Wagstaff said. “This gives me a lot of confidence going to Australia. But I’m not thinking about a world record there. What I have to do is win.”

Stanford’s Jeff Rouse, who set a U.S. Open record in the men’s 100-meter backstroke this year and is ranked first in the world in the event, defeated Spanish Olympian Martin Zubero in 56.13. Zubero, swimming for Florida, was timed in 56.50 and edged Andy Gill of Texas Aquatics by 0.03 for second place.

The 200-meter freestyle races both were won by 1988 Olympians.

Whitney Hedgepeth of Roanoke Hills, N.C., competing unattached, won the women’s race in 2:02.64. Poland’s Artur Wojdat, swimming for Iowa, easily won the men’s event in 1:49.85. Germany’s Christian Keller, who won the 100-meter freestyle Friday, was second in 1:51.45.

Hedgepeth was second after 50 meters but passed Ashley Tappin, 15, by the midway point and then overcame all challenges. Natalie Norberg of Arcadia was second in 2:02.83.

Wojdat took the lead off the blocks but was third at the midway point. Steve Carroll of Arizona State, leading after 100 meters, faded quickly to finish seventh as Wojdat pulled ahead.

Hedgepeth later finished second to Julie Gorman of Towson, Md., in the 100-meter butterfly. Gorman, a former NCAA champion in the 200-meter butterfly, won in 1:01.39. Hedgepeth, currently enrolled at Texas after transferring from Florida after her freshman year, was timed in 1:01.85.

Brian Alderman of Santa Barbara, the silver medalist in the 100-meter butterfly at the Goodwill Games, scored a big victory over a field that included Canada’s Marcel Gery--ranked No. 2 in the world in the event--and Surinam’s Olympic gold medalist Anthony Nesty--ranked No. 1.

Alderman won in 54.10.


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