SWIMNEWS ONLINE: July 1998 Magazine Articles

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Janet Evans Invitational

Bedford Impressive With 1:01.69 For 100 Backstroke


Paul Goldberg
University of Southern California

LOS ANGELES - U.S. National team veteran B.J. Bedford and Stanford All-American Sabir Muhammad both posted meet records and finished the weekend with three titles apiece as they highlighted the final day of the 5th annual Janet Evans Invitational on Sunday (July 26) at the USC McDonald's Swim Stadium in the meet hosted by USC and presented by Speedo. Muhammad won a pair of events on Sunday, setting his meet record with a 53.97 in the 100 butterfly in addition to his first-place mark in the 100 backstroke (57.23). Muhammad finished ahead of Hillenbrand's Martin Pepper (54.82) in the fly and beat Justin Ewers (57.43) of the Arizona Marlins in the back.

"This was a dress rehearsal for (U.S.) nationals in three weeks and I'm right on track," Muhammad said. "I wanted to come here and swim fast and I did. This meet is very good preparation for nationals (Aug. 11-15 in Clovis, Calif.). There are a lot of very good swimmers here but the competition is not too much where you get stressed out."

Earlier in the meet he won the men's 50 freestyle in 23.10, edging Irvine Novaquatics Jason Lesak (23.31) and Felipe Delgado (23.54).

Bedford set her meet record in her third win of the weekend by taking the women's 100 backstroke in 1:01.69, a full two seconds ahead of second-place finisher Denali Knapp of Hillenbrand. "I've had a lot of trouble this summer, between changing teams and deciding whether I would still swim and it seems it's finally working out in my favour," said Bedford, currently training with the Colorado Springs Swim Team. "I just came here to get some competition with some fast people. I just started resting on Monday and this is encouraging to say the least."

Barbara (B.J.) Bedford won the 50 free in 26.11 and set a meet record for the 100 back with a 1:01.69, fourth fastest in the world in 1998
Click image for larger photo. Photo © Marco Chiesa

Bedford won the women's 200 backstroke in 2:14.35, on the second day winning by more than three seconds.

Arizona NCAA titlist Ryk Neethling of Hillenbrand, a South African native, easily won the men's 1500 freestyle in 15:26.59, earning his fourth victory of the meet. He missed a meet record by less than half a second. "I am ecstatic with the swims this weekend," said Neethling, who was participating in his first Janet Evans Invitational. "It's been a really good meet for me."

Neethling won the men's 400 freestyle in 3:55.97, sending Hillenbrand club teammate Taner (3:59.62) to his second second-place finish. In the 200 freestyle Neethling won with a 1:50.74 over 200 flyer Tom Malchow.

Neethling set a meet record in a time of 8:07.31, bettering the mark of 8:07.54 posted by Australia's Kieren Perkins (the world record holder in the event) set last year. U.S. national swimmer Chris Thompson took second (8:17.02) and Matt O'Mara from Reno Aquatics took third (8:18.86). Olympic I.M. gold medalist Tom Dolan finished fifth (8:21.27).

"I'm in the middle of resting for the Goodwill Games but I'm still trying to swim fast," said Neethling,. "It's hard to do but it seems to be working."

Fifteen-year-old Aaron Peirsol and Olympic gold medalist (400 I.M.) Tom Dolan swam to a tie in the 200 backstroke. Peirsol, who will enter Newport (Calif.) Harbor High this fall, actually led Dolan with 50 meters to go, but the veteran caught the teenager at the wall as both finished in 2:04.34.

"I was trying to put it out of my mind, swimming next him," Peirsol said. "It was kind of intimidating. But I was still trying to take the swim out fast. I wasn't really worried how I finished because I was swimming next to an Olympic gold medallist."

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