AQUATIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 126: Janet Evans’ Olympic Comeback Begins At Austin Grand Prix

AQUATIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 126: Janet Evans’ Olympic Comeback Begins At Austin Grand Prix

January 12, 2012


Three-time Olympian Janet Evans, the former teen queen of U.S. swimming, will begin her comeback at the Austin Grand Prix that starts on Friday at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center.

The 40-year-old married mother of two has returned to the pool since retiring after the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

The former world record holder and Olympic gold medalist will compete in her signature events, the 400-meter and 800-meter freestyle on Friday and Sunday at the University of Texas.

Evans will gauge her training, body and recovery while competing against swimmers half her age.

The Austin Grand Prix is the start of the Olympic trials countdown for swimmers in their final phase of training.

Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Natalie Coughlin and Missy Franklin, the superstars of U.S. swimming, head the field that features U.S. national team members and international swimmers.

Evans has been tweeting about the meet. “Excited to swim against all the fast kids,” Evans tweeted on Thursday before leaving California where she trains with veteran Olympic coach and former Mission Bay coach Mark Schubert.

The Austin Grand Prix seems to be the Comeback Meet of the New Year for swimmers.

Anthony Ervin, a gold medalist in the 50-meter freestyle at the 2000 Sydney Olympics who stopped competing in 2003 and Ed Moses, a gold and silver medalist at the 2000 Games and former short course world record holder in the breaststroke, are also using the meet to make a serious challenge at a comeback.

Evans hopes to make her Olympic trials qualifying cuts. Her 2011 best time of 4:22.87 in the 400 freestyle is seeded 51 for Friday’s prelims. Her 800 freestyle time of 8:59.06 is seeded 38th. The qualifying standard in the 400 is 4:19.39 and 8:50.49 in the 800.

“We hope to get the cuts out of the way for Trials and keep moving forward,” Schubert said. “Her main event is the 800, but we would certainly like to get both events qualified for. I am very confident she will make the Trials.”

Franklin is entered in seven events. The 17-year-old and her coach are still trying to figure out which events she will focus on for the Trials and London Olympics. Phelps will swim six events. Lochte is also entered in six events with three potential races against Phelps in the 100 freestyle on Friday and 100 backstroke and 200 individual medley on Sunday.

It is the second event of the seven-meet 2011-2012 USA Swimming Grand Prix Series. No SOFLO swimmers are entered in the meet.

Oliver, FSU Host Last Home Meet Of Season

SOFLO’s Tiffany Oliver and her Florida State teammates will compete in their last home meet of the season against Florida Atlantic University on Friday at 3 p.m. at the Leach Center.

The women are undefeated in the Alantic Coast Conference (3-0) and 8-1 overall. The men are 1-1 in the ACC and 4-2 overall.

Oliver is coming off the Nov. 18-20 Georgia Tech Invite where she lowered her school record in the 100-yard freestyle in 49.08.

After the Owls meet, FSU will travel to Atlanta where they will compete against ACC conference mates Georgia Tech and North Carolina State in the last weekend FSU will compete until the ACC Championships, Feb. 15-18 for the women and Feb. 22-25 for the men in Christiansburg, Va.

Oliver will be joined by SOFLO teammates Ashley Hicks, Melissa Cooper, Doug Ramos and Alex Rodriguez.

Gators Have Busy Weekend

University of Florida’s swim team has three competitions scheduled over the next four days. Several men swimmers will compete in the SMU Classic that begins on Friday. The remaining Gators will host Florida Atlantic University on Saturday at 1 p.m. while post-grads will compete at the Austin Grand Prix. The SMU meet features Michigan, USC, North Carolina and Purdue in addition to the Gators and host SMU.

Thorpe, Klim Compete At Victorian State Championships

Former Australian star swimmers Ian Thorpe and Michael Klim, both in the midst of comebacks and looking to compete in the Summer Olympics, will compete against each other for the first time in six years at the Victorian Open State Championships. Both will compete in the 100-meter freestyle. Klim will also compete in the 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly and Thorpe will swim the 200 freestyle.

SOFLO’s Phelan, Indiana To Be Televised

Indiana sophomore breaststrokeer Brittney Phelan and junior freestyler Nick Schwab and their Indiana teammates will be televised live in their dual meet against Purdue on Big Ten Network on Jan. 21 at 11:30 a.m. It’s the first time in network history that a dual meet will be televised and first time the Big Ten Network will broadcast a swimming event live. Olympic gold medalist and TV analyst Rowdy Gaines will provide commentary.

Sharon Robb can be reached at