LONG BEACH, Calif. - Move over Michael Phelps. Brendan Hansen has provided the most impressive performance so far through the first two days of the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials.
One night after Phelps broke the world record in the 400-meter individual medley, Hansen of Longhorn (Texas) Aquatics, shattered the world record in the 100 breaststroke on Thursday. Hansen finished in 59.30 seconds, breaking the mark of 59.78 set by Japan's Kosuke Kitajima.
"Everything clicked right tonight and it all worked out," Hansen said.
More importantly to Hansen, he actually qualified for the Athens Olympics next month, which was something he failed to do in 2000.
"I was a man on a mission," he said.
Hansen said he remembers Jim Gray, not known for his tact, asking him how he felt about not making the Olympics in 2000.
"He's always good with questions," Hansen said.
Not making the 2000 Olympic team was like "someone running over your dog," Hansen said.
When asked if Thursday felt like being given a puppy, Hansen talked like there's a lot more work to do. "But he's not potty trained, yet," he said.
Hansen wasn't just talking about himself but the entire men's team, including Phelps. While the speculation will be unfair, it will be there nonetheless that Phelps could win as many as nine gold medals in Athens.
The next barrier obviously for Hansen is to break 59 seconds.
"Obviously when you break one barrier, someone's going to build another one for you," Hansen said.
The men's team has just touched the surface of its potential, Hansen said.
"I think we're just getting started to be honest," he said. "Michael was just getting warmed up."
Phelps wasn't too pleased with his time of 1:47.42 in the 200 freestyle semifinals, even though it was the fastest qualifying time going into today's finals.
"I was swimming for best time, but fell a little short," Phelps said.
Hansen didn't fall short as his coach, Eddie Reese, pointed out. Hansen was .68 of a second ahead of world record pace after the first 50. Reese pointed out that Hansen had the second fastest first 50 ever and the second fastest second 50 ever - and pointed out those two 50s were done by two different swimmers.
"That was a phenomenal first 50 and an incredible second 50," Reese said. He also said about Hansen swimming 59.30, "I would have bet my house on it that he would be able to do it."
Among other highlights in the meet was former Stanford star Jenny Thompson qualifying for her fourth Olympics in the 100 butterfly. Rachel Komisarz won the event in 58.77 and Thompson locked up the other qualifying spot by taking second in 58.98.
Thompson talked like a swimmer who wasn't just satisfied with going to Athens. "I have a lot to improve on for Athens," she said.
She was also definitely the sentimental favorite of the crowd. "I really felt the crowd," she said. "That meant a lot to me."
Others to qualify for the Olympics were USC teammates Kaitlin Sandeno and Kalyn Keller in the 400 free. Sandeno won in 4:08.07 and Keller was second in 4:09.78. In the men's 100 breaststroke, Mark Gagloff secured the other qualifying spot by taking second in 1:00.87.
There were also impressive performances in the women's 100 breaststroke. In the preliminaries, Staciana Stitts posted the third fastest time in the world in 1:07.20 and Amanda Beard posted the fourth fastest in 1:07.62. Tara Kirk surpassed Beard in the semifinals to qualify first for today's finals in 1:07.33. Beard qualified second in 1:07.54 and Stitts qualified third in 1;08.27.
Contact Charles Whisnand at email@example.com or 881-1214.