SWIMMING : It’s Business as Usual for Evans and Jager
World record-holders Janet Evans and Tom Jager added to their collection of national titles Thursday and teen-ager Allison Wagner won her third title in this year’s National Swimming Championships.
Evans won the 800-meter freestyle in 8 minutes 30.82 seconds, bringing her total of national titles to 41. The time was more than 14 seconds off her world record of 8:16.22 set in 1989, but was more than six seconds quicker than 14-year-old Brooke Bennett, who was second at 8:37.02.
The championship was the second of the meet for the 22-year-old Evans, who trails only Tracy Caulkins’ total of 48 national titles.
Jager, who set the world record for the 50 freestyle of 21.81 seconds in 1990, remains one of the world’s fastest sprinters at the age of 29 with a time of 22.33. It was the second fastest in the world this year, but unlike the other champions determined at the Indiana University Natatorium this week, he isn’t headed to next month’s World Championships in Rome.
Jager won’t make the trip because he disagrees with the policy set by U.S. Swimming, which requires the team to leave for Italy on Tuesday to start preparing for the Sept. 5-11 meet.
“It’s what they feel they have to do to create team unity,” said the three-time Olympian. “The heart of the team comes from the athletes and they don’t need it shoved down their throat.”
Jager said he would be proud to represent the United States in Rome if he was allowed to travel later.
“I’m swimming because I enjoy it,” he said. “If I was going to have to go for five weeks . . . this week, the training camp and the World Championships, by the time I’d get home, I wouldn’t enjoy swimming anymore.
Gary Hall Jr., whose father represented the United States in three Olympics, finished second to Jager. Hall, who won the 100 freestyle Tuesday, finished in 22:46. Bill Pilczuk and Jon Olsen tied for third at 22:84 and will have a swimoff Friday to decide who will fill the spot on the team left open by Jager’s decision.
Wagner added the 200 individual medley title to the 400 medley and 200 breaststroke titles the 17-year-old high school senior from Gainesville, Fla., won earlier this week. Wagner won in 2:13.88. Nicole Haislett, a triple gold medalist in the Barcelona Olympics, was second in 2:15.64.
Other winners included Ugur Tanner in the 200 butterfly and Jeff Rouse in the 100 backstroke.
Taner won in 1:59.04 with Ray Carey second at 1:59.32.
Melvin Stewart, who holds the world record in the event, did not compete because he was having his tonsils removed.