Friday, October 8, 2004

Phelps starts another
Olympic-sized quest

World Short Course Swimming Championship

By Beth Harris
The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS - One race, one gold for Michael Phelps. Kaitlin Sandeno was three times better.

Phelps led all the way in winning the 200-meter freestyle at the World Short Course Championships on opening night Thursday, giving the world's best swimmer a chance to equal the six gold medals he won at the Athens Olympics.

Sandeno won three golds - the 200 butterfly, 400 individual medley and she anchored the 800 freestyle relay, all in a 75-minute span.

Sandeno accomplished the feat despite having a slight concussion after being hit in the eye by another swimmer's kickboard earlier Thursday.

The United States won all five finals, and finished 1-2 in the two women's individual races.

Phelps touched the wall first in 1 minute, 43.59 seconds - well off rival Ian Thorpe's world mark of 1:41.10 set in 2000.

"There were a few things I could have changed out there, but I'll take it," Phelps said.

Phelps denied himself a chance at a second gold when he opted out of the 400 freestyle relay final. He was asked to swim, but deferred to U.S. men's head coach Skip Kenney.

"There are guys on the team who can swim a faster 100 than me," Phelps said.

Nick Brunelli, Neil Walker, Nate Dusing, a Covington Catholic product, and Jason Lezak won in 3:09.96, missing the world record by 39-hundredths of a second.

In the women's 800 free relay, Olympian Lisbeth Lenton helped Australia to a big early lead. But Lindsay Benko, an Elkhart, Ind., native, made up nearly a second in her first 50 meters to pull even with Louise Tomlinson and put the Americans on world-record pace.

Sandeno brought it home in 7:47.22 - 92-hundredths of a second off the record.

Phelps also is entered in the 200 butterfly and the 100, 200 and 400 individual medleys. He is expected to swim other relays during the five-day meet.

THOMPSON FOCUSES ON FUTURE: Jenny Thompson is ready to trade in the pool for a career in medicine. The 31-year-old swimmer, who owns an American-best career total of 12 Olympic medals, will retire after the Championships in the same city, Indianapolis, where her international career began in 1987.

"Time has just flown by," she said. "I think about it and I'm like, 'Wow, 10 years ago I was doing the same thing and maybe I should do something else for a change.' "

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