Carvin shows heart in Olympic Trials

Posted: Thursday, August 10, 2000

INDIANAPOLIS -- Chad Carvin lunged for the wall, not knowing if he was first or second.

It didn't matter. He was a winner either way.

Carvin, who couldn't compete for a spot in the Atlanta Games four years ago because of a serious heart ailment, earned his first Olympic berth Wednesday night at the U.S. trials, even though he was edged at the finish of the 400-meter freestyle by Klete Keller.

Both men eclipsed a 12-year-old American record, but Keller's name goes in the book with a time of 3 minutes, 47.18 seconds. Carvin finished at 3:47.50 to claim the other Olympic berth.

``I was filled with so much emotion,'' Carvin said. ``All I've gone through flashed before me.''

Carvin returned to the pool Thursday morning for preliminaries in the 200 freestyle, finishing fourth to advance to the evening semifinals. Josh Davis of Austin, Texas, led in 1:48.30.

The only one of the five Alaskans competing at the meet to see action on Wednesday was former Lathrop High School swim star Patty Nash, who finished in 87th place in a field of 99 in the women's 100-meter butterfly, her only event of the Trials. Nash, who was a captain for Colorado State's team last season, posted a time of 1:04:39 in her heat. Nash spent the summer training with her college coach in Fort Collins, Colo., and among those training with her club was four-time Olympic gold medalist Amy Van Dyken.

The other Alaskans at the meet are Derek Gibb of Petersburg and Juneau, Andrew Tainter of Anchorage, Robert Roosa of Anchorage and Maria Reeves of Fairbanks. All four of them will see action later this weekend.

Courtney Shealy of Columbia, S.C., was fastest qualifier in the women's 100-meter backstroke at 1:02.13, edging B.J. Bedford (1:02.19) and American record holder Lea Maurer (1:02.58), a high school English teacher who won two medals at the 1992 Olympics. Beth Botsford, gold medalist in the 100 backstroke as a 15-year-old at the Atlanta Games, was fourthfastest in qualifying at 1.02.93.

As expected, six-time Olympic medalist Angel Martino withdrew from Thursday night's final in the 100 butterfly, even though she was sixth-fastest qualifier. Martino, 33 and mother of a 3-year-old son, is focusing on making the team as part of the freestyle relay.

Besides, she's not in the same league as former training partners Dara Torres and Jenny Thompson, who were poised for an epic duel in the butterfly final. The top two make the Olympic team.

The 33-year-old Torres, making a remarkable comeback after retiring for seven years, eclipsed Thompson's American record in the Wednesday preliminaries, bringing the crowd at the Indiana University Natatorium to its feet with a time of 57.58.

Thompson, whose previous mark of 57.88 was set last August, just missed reclaiming the record in the evening semifinals at 57.59. Torres, swimming in a different semifinal heat, coasted to second overall at 58.07.

``I was told to chill,'' said Torres, relaying her prerace instructions from coach Richard Quick. ``He told me it's an eight-day meet. Try to act like a veteran and not go as fast.''

The two swimmers trained together at Stanford after Torres began her comeback in July 1999. By December, Quick split them up because the intensity of their workouts made every day seem like a mini-Olympics.

``Things can get intense when you've got two swimmers going after exactly the same thing, and there's only one thing out there - the gold medal,'' Torres said. ``But it's not like we're enemies.''

Torres is trying to become the first American woman to swim in four Olympic Games. Her first was 16 years ago in Los Angeles.

Thompson is a five-time gold medalist, but all have come as part of relay teams. She was a major disappointment at the 1996 trials, failing to qualify in any of her individual events.

Carvin, 26, couldn't even get in the water four years ago. He tried to watch the trials on television while resting at his parents' home in California, but quickly gave up.

``I broke down in tears,'' he said. ``I couldn't even make it through the first day.''

A few months earlier, tests revealed a condition known as viral cardiomyopathy, which limits the amount of oxygen reaching the heart. In Carvin's case, he was receiving only about half the required amount.

Doctors feared the swimmer might need a transplant and ordered him to stop all strenuous activity for three months. Instead of training for the Olympic trials, Carvin found himself parking in handicapped spaces.

After fighting off the virus, Carvin began training for Sydney. But he endured another medical mishap in 1998, when a bulging disc in his back forced him out of the world championships.

Keller, an 18-year-old from Phoenix, broke the American mark of 3:48.06 set by Matt Cetlinski in the 1988 Olympic trials. Carvin led most of the race, but Keller was nearly stroke-forstroke over the final 50 meters before reaching the wall first.

``I like to take it out kind of easy,'' Keller said. ``I want to be relaxed and see how I feel, then take it home at the end. I knew I had the strength to do it.''

Carvin didn't mind a bit.

``This meet is not about winning,'' he said. ``It's about making the team and having a shot at Sydney. That's the ultimate goal.''

Keller isn't the only teen-ager headed to the Olympics. Kaitlin Sandeno, 17, of Lake Forest, Calif., led the entire way in the 400 individual medley and won in 4:40.91 - the world's third-fastest time this year.

Maddy Crippen, 20, of Philadelphia took the second Olympic spot in 4:42.81.

``I'm going to be missing a month of high school,'' said Sandeno, who's dominated the event nationally for three years. ``But I think it's a good excuse.''

In the semifinals of the men's 100 breaststroke, Ed Moses of Burke, Va., was the fastest qualifier (1:00.99) for Thursday night's final. Auburn teammates Pat Calhoun and David Denniston were 2-3 in the semis.

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