It's Back to the Pool for Young U.S. Team


The U.S. Olympic swimming trials are over, but the real work has just begun. The United States used to dominate this sport, but the U.S. team will have to get a lot better over the next 4 1/2 months to be a major force at the Atlanta Olympics.

Through seven days of competition at the Indiana University Natatorium, not one American record was broken--the first such shutout since 1920 and another troubling reminder that the center lanes are no longer strictly U.S. territory.

"We can't be favored in any event," U.S. women's Coach Richard Quick said. "I don't know of any way we can structure things so we could be favored."

Several members of the 1992 team, including Summer Sanders, will not be making a return trip to the Olympics.

Sanders, who qualified in four individual events for the Barcelona Olympics, finished last in the 200-meter butterfly, a stunning finale to the career of the defending Olympic champion.

Annette Salmeen of UCLA won the event in 2 minutes 12.39 seconds.

Other 1992 Olympians who missed the team are Mel Stewart, Crissy Ahmann-Leighton and Tom Jager.

Jenny Thompson, who won two gold medals at Barcelona, is on the team as a member of the 400-meter freestyle relay.

Amy Van Dyken made the team in her third event by winning the 50 free in 25.17 seconds. Angel Martino, who will be 29 when she swims in three individual events in Atlanta, was second in 25.69.

Brad Bridgewater won the 200 backstroke Tuesday in 1:59.16 and Atlanta native Carlton Bruner won the 1,500 freestyle.

That leaves the U.S. with only one dominant swimmer, Tom Dolan, who is expected to contend for medals in three events. The women's team has some promising new faces--particularly 14-year-olds Amanda Beard and Beth Botsford--but will have to make great strides to compete with strong teams from Germany and China.

"I will say that in 1992 and 1988 we had fantastic Olympic trials and I can't say we had great Olympics," Quick said. "We do have room to improve. Botsford is a good example of a 14-year-old who can improve dramatically over the next five months, but all of us have to do that."

There is time. Most of the other Olympic team trials will take place early this summer, but the swimming trials were held earlier to allow for a full summer training cycle leading into the Olympics. That should give the American team an opportunity to rebound from the disappointing trials.

Dolan tried to light up the trials with pool records in the 200-meter individual medley, the 400-meter individual medley and 400-meter freestyle, but failed to qualify in Tuesday night's 200-meter backstroke. He threatened the American record in the 200-meter IM and challenged his world mark in the 400-meter IM, but that was as close as anyone came to rewriting the record books. By contrast, four American and two world records fell during the 1992 trials.

Dolan was voted the meet's top swimmer.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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