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Action poolside at the Counsilman Classic

Posted 4/3/2004 10:36 PM Updated 4/3/2004 10:38 PM

By MICHAEL MAROT, The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — Three-time Olympic champion Lenny Krayzelburg followed his plan Saturday night. He did just enough to qualify for the 100-meter backstroke finals, then did what was necessary in the championship heat.
Krayzelburg cut his time by more than a second, finishing in 55.10 to edge Matt Grevers for the championship on the second day of the Counsilman Classic. Grevers finished in 55.20.

"I have the luxury where I don't have to go all out in the morning," Krayzelburg said. "But it always looks good when you drop a second and a half, too."

Krayzelburg won three gold medals at the Sydney Olympics and became the third American to sweep the 100 and 200 backstroke. He also won a gold in the 400 medley relay.

Since then, though, he has battled injuries more than he has swimmers and although he's still been competitive, he qualified in an uncharacteristic 56.50. The time and the victory also gave him a boost of confidence as he prepares for July's Olympic Trials in Long Beach, Calif.

"I know I made a couple of mistakes," he said, saying that cost him another two-tenths of a second. "So I'm right there in the high 54s, and I'm pretty excited about it."

Krayzelburg's performance topped a night when Olympic medalists dominated. Four gold medalists from 2000 won events, including Lindsay Benko, who took the 400 freestyle for her second straight win. Jenny Thompson also has two wins. She won the 100 butterfly Friday night and the 50 freestyle Saturday.

But America's top swimmer, Michael Phelps, wasn't among the winners — or the competitors.

After getting sick during the 200 freestyle final Friday, Phelps withdrew from his second final — the 400 individual medley. On Saturday, he was held out of two more events, the 200 butterfly and the 200 breaststroke.

"I let him sleep today," coach Bob Bowman said. "We'll see how he does. We're going to let him rest and get his strength back as much as he can today."

Phelps said he slept for about 14 hours before testing himself in the pool just before the finals began. Afterward, he said he was feeling better and that he expects to swim Sunday in the 200 backstroke and the 100 freestyle. He still has not decided if he will swim the 800 freestyle relay.

If he tries the relay, he would be swimming in three straight events, something rarely attempted but a good test for Phelps, who some expect to challenge Mark Spitz's record of seven gold medals in one Olympic games.

"I think this may have helped in the long run," he said. "If I'm in the same situation again, I've already had one experience like this. I'm happy with how the swim felt, but I'm disappointed I didn't get to swim the IM or this morning."

The biggest surprise of the night belonged to 15-year-old Elaine Breeden of Lexington, Ky., who defeated two Olympic hopefuls in the 200 butterfly with what she called the biggest win of her career.

Breeden used a strong push off the final turn to rally in the final 50 meters and move past Misty Hyman, a 2000 Olympic medalist, and Dana Kirk, considered a top Olympic contender, in 2 minutes, 11.31 seconds — more than three seconds faster than her qualifying time. Kirk was second in 2:12.12. Hyman dropped to fourth.

"I'm really excited, thrilled with that race. It feels pretty good," Breeden said. "I'm really excited about being in such a fast heat and Misty Hyman, I've always looked up to her.

"I knew I needed to win or finish well here to give me more confidence going into the Olympic trials."

Article originally located at USA TODAY

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