Sunday, August 13, 2000

Swim Trials Notebook

Surprised Hall makes finals

By Jeff Carlton
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        INDIANAPOLIS — Gary Hall Jr. said he had no intention of swimming the 100 freestyle at the Olympic trials, having not competed at that distance since being diagnosed with diabetes in March 1999.

        He qualified for the event almost by accident, swimming a fast relay leg at the Janet Evans Invitational in Los Angeles in July. It's no wonder then that the Cincinnati native said he was surprised with his 49.10 in his morning heat Saturday, the second-fastest time in the preliminaries.

        Still, Hall has big-time 100 freestyle experience, having won the silver medal at the 1996 games in Atlanta. It showed in the semis, when he swam a 48.55, the second-fastest time, to qualify for today's finals.

        “I was scared going into this event,” Hall said.

        If so, he didn't show it prior to the semifinal heat. When he was introduced to the crowd, Hall kissed both biceps and flexed for the crowd.

        The diabetes diagnosis was life-altering for Hall, who was suspended by swimming's governing body in 1998 after testing positive for a recreational drug.

        “I thought I was invincible,” Hall said. “It's a real shock to find out you're not.It gives you a taste of mortality. When you stand up on the blocks, you like to have that feeling of invincibility.”

        15 CANDLES: Michael Phelps isn't even old enough to drive a car legally, yet he is the youngest male swimmer to make the Olympic team since 13-year-old Ralph Flanagan swam for the United States in 1932.

        Phelps, from Baltimore, is just 15 years old, and a young 15 at that. His birthday is June 30. But that hasn't held him back from making his mark in the 200 butterfly.

        World record-holder Tom Malchow owns this event and six of the 10 fastest times in history. On Saturday, Malchow won the event in 1:56.87 to guarantee a spot on the Olympic team. Phelps finished second in 1:57.48.

        In the semifinals, Phelps swam a 1:58.24, the second-fastest time of that round.

        NEW RECORD: Ed Moses broke a trials record in the 200 breaststroke Saturday night in his semifinal heat. He clocked in a 2:13.13.

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