Janet Evans chased her 1988 world record in the 1,500-meter freestyle Friday night--and nearly caught it.

For 600 meters, Evans, 21, was ahead of the pace she established as an El Dorado High School junior.

“I was thinking, ‘OK, I feel good,’ Evans said. ‘I hope I don’t die.’ ”

At the 700 mark, she fell behind by 0.20 seconds. At the 800 mark, she fell 0.67 off the pace.


Although she continued to lag behind her world-record pace, Evans still had a shot at breaking the 16-minute barrier.

“That was my main goal,” she said.

Evans kicked into high gear in the last 100 and touched in 15 minutes 59.44 seconds, the third-fastest in history, trailing her world record of 15:52.10 and her 1990 mark of 15:54.23.

The victory tied Evans with Johnny Weismuller for 36 national titles, second only to Tracy Caulkins’ 48.


“That’s a great honor,” Evans said. “I didn’t know I’d been swimming that long.”

Swimming Notes

Eric Namesnik won the Phillips 66 Performance Award for his American record 4:15.35 in the 400 individual medley. Namesnik, of Club Wolverine, also won the Robert J.H. Kiphuth Award for scoring the most points. Namesnik won the 400 individual medley, was fourth in the 200 individual medley and the 400 freestyle and sixth in the 200 breaststroke. Janet Evans, the winner of the 1,500, 800, and 400 freestyle, and third-place finisher in the 200 freestyle, was the women’s Kiphuth Award winner.

The Jack Nelson-coached Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Swim Team won the combined team title and the women’s title. In his last swim--unless he comes out of retirement again--Olympic gold medalist Pablo Morales swam the butterfly leg on the winning 400 medley relay and accepted Stanford Swimming’s trophy for the men’s championship. Stanford placed seven of the 26 men on the Pan Pacific team. Five members of the Pan Pacific team have ties to the Southland: Evans, Kristine Quance of Northridge, Alexis Larsen of Pacific Palisades, Chad Carvin of Irvine and USC’s Mike Merell.


Whitney Phelps, 13, of North Baltimore, Md., Aquatics, and Gary Hall Jr., 19, of Phoenix Swim Club, earned rookie-of-the-meet awards for posting the highest point totals of first-time qualifiers. Hall is the son of three-time Olympian and American flag bearer Gary Hall. . . . The unofficial rising star of the meet was Allison Wagner, 16, of Florida Aquatics. Wagner took control on the third leg, the breaststroke, to widen a lead in the 200 individual medley. She finished in 2:14.34, the second-fastest time in the world this year and 3.6 seconds faster than her previous best. On Tuesday, Wagner upset Quance, the defending national champion, to win the 400 individual medley. Quance was also the defending titlist in the 200 individual medley, but she swam poorly Friday morning and did not make the championship finals.

Greg Burgess of Florida Aquatics gained a 1.6-second edge in only 50 meters of breaststroke to swim away with the men’s 200 individual medley. Burgess finished in 2:00.84, the fastest time in the world this year. His 2.3-second margin of victory was extraordinary in a race of only 200 meters. Sergey Mariniuk of the Republic of Moldova swam the second-fastest time in the consolation finals of both individual medleys. As a foreigner, he could not swim in the championship finals, however, because it is a selection meet.

With a burst in the last five meters, Angel Martino upset Jenny Thompson to win the 50 freestyle, 25.63 to 25.65. Richelle Depold of UCLA was fourth in 26.25. . . . David Fox beat three to the wall in the men’s 50 freestyle, winning his first national title in 22.49. Jon Olsen was second in 22.54 and UCLA’s Brian Kurza took third in 22.60. “I think the first 10 meters made the difference,” Fox said of his quick start. . . . Carlton Bruner dominated the men’s 1,500 freestyle in 15:16.21, 6.6 seconds ahead of the field.