Lisa Jacob and Sarah D. Anderson were separated by one one-hundredth of a second when they made the final turn in the 200-meter freestyle and headed for home Sunday in the Chrysler Swim Meet of Champions at Mission Viejo's International Swimming Complex.
Stroke for stroke they battled, separated only by a lane line. In the final five meters they remained dead even. It was only at the end, when Jacob's last arm stroke reached the wall first, that the race was decided.
The victory by Jacob, 17, of Mission Viejo, marked another step toward world-class prominence. She touched in two minutes 2.23 seconds, four-tenths of a second ahead of Anderson, of Golden Bear.
Not only was it the 15th-fastest time in the world this year, it was also Jacob's personal best, an unusual occurrence during the middle of a heavy-training season.
"That was a great race," Mission Viejo Coach Terry Stoddard said. "By far the best race of the meet. Lisa tried to take it coast-to-coast with a lot of determination and she did it."
Jacob, who showed her versatility by winning the 800 freestyle on Thursday, is swimming better than Stoddard expected this early in the summer season.
"What that says is she's training well and things look outstanding for the end of the summer," Stoddard said, referring to the Pan American Games in August, which will be Jacob's main competition this season.
Jacob's Mission Viejo teammate, Artur Wojdat, a winner in three distance freestyle events earlier in the meet, also showed range and speed by finishing second in the 100 freestyle to Matt Biondi, whose time of 51.40 was three seconds off his world record.
With Wojdat and Jacob leading the way, Mission Viejo captured the team championship with 936.5 points to 551.5 for Stanford. Dynamo of Atlanta was third with 402, followed by Team Wolverine with 400.
The star of Team Wolverine, Eric Namesnik, swam a total of 4,300 meters in the meet, but none were more gutsy than the last 15 meters of the 200 individual medley on Sunday.
Stroking freestyle furiously, Namesnik inched closer and closer to race leader Ron Karnaugh, who was closing fast on the wall.
Though it appeared Namesnik wouldn't have room to catch Karnaugh, Namesnik surged just in time, touching in 2:04.80 to Karnaugh's 2:05.07. Karnaugh is an unattached swimmer who trains with Mission Viejo.
It was the comeback of the meet, considering Namesnik trailed Karnaugh by a full second following the third leg, the breaststroke.
"I felt he was within reach when I turned onto freestyle," Namesnik said, "but I thought it would be pretty tough. I was breathing on his side so I could see that I was moving up. I just tried to kick it in and it ended up that I was lucky enough to do it."
Namesnik, 20, who has posted a 2:01.66, the second-fastest 200 individual medley ever by an American, clocked his best time unrested and unshaved. It was the 16th-fastest time in the world this year.
Namesnik, who set a meet record in the 400 individual medley on Friday, was named performer of the meet, the only meet record-setter of the four-day event. He also earned the high-point award for his marathon performances, including a runner-up finish in the 1,500 freestyle, third-place finishes in the 400 freestyle and the 200 butterfly and a sixth in the 200 breaststroke.
The women's performer of the meet was Northridge's Kristine Quance of CLASS Aquatics, whose time of 4:48.36 in the 400 individual medley bettered the field by an astounding 14.5 seconds, and ranks eighth in the world in 1991.
The women's high-point winner was Silvia Poll of Costa Rica, winner of three events during the four-day meet, the 100 and 200 backstrokes and the 100 freestyle. Like Jacob, Mike Mason shook off the effects of intensive training to record a personal best.
Mason, 17, a Canadian who is living in Santa Maria, lunged at the wall to win the 100 breaststroke in 1:05.46, an impressive two-second improvement.
Mason, who is unattached but trains with Team Trojan, edged out Alex Marcek of San Ramon, who was second in 1:05.51, the closest second of the evening.