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Janet Evans Decides to Swim for Stanford : She Picks the Cardinal Over Texas, Florida

May 12, 1989|CHRIS FOSTER | Times Staff Writer

Janet Evans, who won three gold medals swimming in the Olympics, said Thursday she has signed a letter of intent to attend Stanford in the fall.

Evans, a senior at El Dorado High School, has been besieged by recruiters in recent weeks. She said she chose Stanford for its academics and its strong swim program.

The Cardinal women's team won the 1989 National Collegiate Athletic Assn. swim championship. Stanford also won the title in 1983 and has never finished lower than third since 1977.

"Obviously, I feel I've recruited one of the greatest athletes in American history," said Stanford women's swimming coach Richard Quick, who was coach of the 1988 U.S. Olympic swimming team.

"I had a hard time deciding," Evans said. "Texas, Florida and Stanford all have good programs. But I really like girls on the team at Stanford. I liked the school and I can get a good education there."

Evans said she plans to major in communications.

"I like working with people and I would like to do something in broadcasting," Evans said.

She also wants to swim in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain.

Evans holds world records in the 400-meter individual medley, 400 freestyle and 800 freestyle. She won gold medals in all three events last September at the Olympics.

Her victories in Seoul brought numerous endorsement offers. However, Evans said that she turned down the offers to maintain her amateur standing.

"At first it was tempting, but I've always wanted to swim in college," Evans said. "I didn't want to forfeit my education. I'm 17, I want to be a kid for a while longer."

Evans began gaining attention in 1986 as she won two bronze medals at the Goodwill Games in Moscow.

Her small stature (5-foot-4, less than 100 pounds) and unorthodoxed style of swimming, which El Dorado Coach Tom Milich once likened to a Cuisinart, made her unique. Evans said she takes 52 strokes of freestyle per 50-meter pool.

At the U.S. Swimming Open in 1987, Evans set world records in the 400 freestyle (4 minutes 5.45 seconds), 800 freestyle (8:24.71 seconds) and 400 individual medley (4:39.75). She later lowered her time in the 400 freestyle to 4:03.85.

She was the first American woman swimmer to hold three world records at one time since Debbie Meyer held four in 1968. The last women swimmer to hold three was Kornelia Ender of East Germany in 1976.

Despite her international success, Evans continued to swim for her high school team. Last year she set national high school records in the 500-yard freestyle (4:37.30) and 200 individual medley (2:00.72).

She is favored to win those event again Saturday in the Southern Section 3-A finals at Belmont Plaza in Long Beach.

"It was the hardest decision I ever had to make," Evans said. "My parents said they would support whatever decision I made. I weighed the pros and cons and picked Stanford. I'm really happy with the decision and think it's for the best."

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