Less than 24 hours after receiving her diploma from El Dorado High School, Janet Evans conducted business as usual Thursday, the first day of the Mission Viejo International Meet of Champions at the Marguerite Recreation Center.
Swimming in the first of eight events in which she is scheduled to compete, Evans was hardly challenged as she scored an easy victory in the women's 800-meter freestyle with a time of 8 minutes 39.58 seconds.
Laurence Bensimon, who lives in Santa Barbara, finished second in 8:55.58. Sarah Anderson of Riverside was third (9:00.93).
Evans, who last year set her world record of 8:17.12, took an early lead and then pulled away from the field.
"It was like a workout swim for me," said Evans, who will attend Stanford in the fall. "I just tried to keep getting ahead of my competition and see how far along I am in my training. I was happy with the way I swam."
Evans, who will compete in the 400-meter individual medley and 200-meter butterfly in the Mission Viejo meet today, the 400-meter freestyle and 200 backstroke on Saturday and the 200-meter individual medley, 200 breaststroke and 200 freestyle on Sunday.
Reflecting on her graduation experiences the night before, Evans said: "Picking up my high school diploma was a little different for me. It was a sad experience for me but I was also happy. I'm going to miss high school but I'm real excited about starting college at Stanford and I'm looking forward to it."
In the men's 800-meter freestyle, Poland's Artur Wojdat survived a strong challenge from Mission Viejo teammate Mariusz Podkoscielny to win in 8:08.62.
Podkoscielny, who stayed with Wojdat until the final 200 meters, was second in 8:10.79. U.S. Olympian Dan Jorgensen came in third in 8:14.86.
"I expected to go about 8:10, so I was happy with my time," Wojdat said. "I'm right now where I expected to be when the season started."
Said Podkoscielny: "I'm happy with what I did. I led at the halfway point, but I didn't lead by enough, and he won the race with his speed at the end."
Wojdat and Podkoscielny, who competed for Poland during the 1988 Olympics, and Jorgensen, were among four Olympians in the men's event. Lars Jorgensen, Dan's brother and 1988 U.S. team member, finished fourth in 8:19.70.