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SWIMMING FOR GOLD : Janet Evans, Only 16, Already Holds 3 World Records

July 03, 1988|TRACY DODDS | Times Staff Writer

McAllister had no objections. Evans knows what she's doing. She won't take any more time off than she really has to. As she explained: "Every missed workout is a workout you'll never, in all your life, have the chance to make up."

McAllister said: "Janet likes to be challenged. . . . I know she's always going to work hard. She'll tell me what she can do and I'll stand there and time her and she'll be right on it. An athlete like Janet knows her body better than anyone. She asks me to help her set her goals, but she tells me how she feels, physically. And she keeps asking for me.

"I look at some workouts that I had her do last year, and they'd be warmups for her now. She's going so much longer and so much faster. What she's done in the last year and a half is amazing. I've written some articles for coaching publications, so I've carefully researched what she was doing and what she is doing.

"Oh, yeah, I'm documenting everything now. I started keeping exact records last February of everything she's doing. I'm in the process of writing now.

"After she did that 4:05 (world record in the 400-meter freestyle) I said, 'Geez, I'm going to have to start seeing what she can do.' I was working her hard, but I've been working her even harder. I've told some coaches the sets she's been doing and I had one stand there and tell me that he didn't believe those times. I said, 'You're right, now she's going even faster.' "

Janet Evans has a lot of pressure on her to bring home the gold this October. McAllister has the same pressure to see that she does. But he says that they both thrive on it.

"She's the best I've ever seen at responding to pressure," McAllister said. "That's the way I feel about it. I think of the Olympics and I say to myself, 'I can't wait.'

"I picture what she's going to do, and it's all good."

Evans is expected to enter five events at the Olympic trials--the 800-, 400- and 200-meter freestyles and the 400- and 200-meter individual medleys. She plans to compete in just three at the Games--the 800- and 400-meter freestyles and the 400-meter individual medley.

"She's a freestyler first and an IMer second," McAllister said. "Her butterfly is a weak stroke. . . . She might soon consider working on the 200 freestyle for the future.

"If she continues to have fun and stay hungry, she'll still be at a good age for the Olympics in 1992. But that's too far away to think about now. I'm not adding it this summer because we don't want to do too much. Over a five-day or six-day meet, I don't want to add another event."

It would be nice for Evans to be able to go to Korea with world records in all three of the events she plans to swim. She already has them in the 400, 4:04.45, and the 800, 8:17.12, and she will be taking a good shot at the 400 individual medley when she gets into the fast water at the University of Texas Natatorium. Her best time is 3.65 seconds off the world record, a huge drop for anyone but her. It's not unusual for her to drop five or six seconds from one taper to the next.

"I think the trials will be incredible," McAllister said. "The pool is good. We'll still be at home. Everyone will be rested. The competition will be the best. The importance of the meet--I'm just smiling and waiting."

But it would seem to be putting a lot of pressure on a 16-year-old.

Not to worry, her mother says: "She has an amazing ability to concentrate and focus on whatever is the task at hand. She can set a world record and go back to the hotel and go right to sleep."

McAllister points out that she competed against Soviets and East Germans in the Goodwill Games and that she has competed against the best all around the world. She is best under pressure, he keeps insisting.

"She's the kind of swimmer who won't be too concerned about times, but she doesn't want to lose the race," McAllister said. "She'll respond."

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