Jennifer Parmenter knows what stroke needs the most improvement if she’s to make the 1996 Olympic team. She knows who to ask, thanks to a first-hand demonstration by Kristine Quance at the Phillips 66 National Swimming Championships.
Quance used the breaststroke, her best stroke, to take an insurmountable lead in the 400-meter individual medley final Wednesday night at the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center.
Among those Quance, former Granada Hills High standout who attends USC, overtook was Parmenter. The 14-year-old Granada Hills resident, who won both individual medleys in the Spring Nationals, finished fifth in 4:49.65, almost three seconds behind Quance.
Parmenter’s breaststroke has been the weakest of the four strokes. Her coach with the Canyon Country Swim Team, Bruce Patmos, has emphasized working on the breaststroke since the spring.
“I’ve had problems but it’s getting better,” Parmenter said. “It still needs to get a lot better.”
The field Wednesday was much stronger than last spring, when Quance and second-place finisher Allison Wagner competed in the NCAA championships instead of the nationals.
“It’s a little scary going up against this type of field,” Patmos said. “But it’s better to be scared now than seven months from now at the [Olympic] trials.”
Wednesday’s final marked only the second time Quance and Parmenter have faced each other in competition. The first meeting was last month at the Janet Evans Invitational.
“She came up and talked to me tonight,” Quance said. “It’s good to see there’s someone else from the Valley doing so well.”
In the preliminaries, frustration continued for the Buenaventura women. Rebecca Gilman posted her second-best time in the 200 freestyle (2:04.12) but it wasn’t good enough to qualify for either the championship or consolation final.
The day before, Nicole Beck placed 49th in the 200 backstroke after a sixth-place finish in the Spring Nationals.
“They’ve got to learn this isn’t like [the Southern Section meet],” Buenaventura Coach Steve Baxter said. “She’s used to leading and she felt she had to go out and grab the lead. This time they stayed with her.”
In two years at Buena High, Gilman has gone unchallenged in four individual Southern Section Division I races.
While the women’s struggle continued, the constantly overshadowed Buenaventura men kept exceeding expectations.
After Chris Pelant narrowly missed qualifying for a second swim in the 200 breaststroke Tuesday, former Royal High standout Ryan Duncan posted the best time of his career in the 400 individual medley Wednesday.
His time of 4:29.54 earned a place in the consolation final and missed qualifying for the Olympic trials by under a second.
“He was absolutely thrilled,” Baxter said. “His best mark was set three years ago, so this is really an accomplishment for him.”
Duncan, 21, who competes for the University of California, came even closer to the trial standard in the consolation final. He cut his time to 4:29.31, .42 of a second away from the trials.
Valery Caulkins, a former standout at Thousand Oaks High who now is swimming for the University of South Carolina, finished two spots behind Gilman in the 200 freestyle.
Buena’s Marissa Roarty, fresh from competing in the Olympic Festival last week in Colorado, finished 30th in the 400 individual medley.
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