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Swim Meet of Champions : Jager Battles Age-Old Issue, and Wins 50 Freestyle

June 18, 1989|AL PRESTON | Special to The Times

Tom Jager, a silver medalist in the Seoul Olympics, said he wants to prove that older swimmers can compete in a sport dominated by youngsters.

Jager, 24, who works as an aquatics director in Albuquerque, N.M., showed Saturday that he is fast enough to win major competitions with a victory in the 50-meter freestyle during the third day of the International Swim Meet of Champions at Mission Viejo.

Jager, who was edged by Matt Biondi for the gold medal in the 1988 Olympic 50, was clocked in 23.74 seconds. Brian Kurza of UCLA finished second in 24.15 and Brian Jacobson, 15, of the Bellflower Aquatic Club was third in 24.35.

"I may have scrambled a bit much in my race, and that might have slowed me down a bit," said Jager, whose 23.60 was the top qualifying time in Saturday morning's preliminaries. Jager, who wants to break Biondi's world record of 22.14 set during the Seoul Games, said he decided to continue competing to serve as a role model for younger competitors as well as help find ways for athletes to stay in the sport after they complete their college careers.

"A lot still needs to be done in the sport," Jager said. "United States Swimming (the sport's governing body in the United States) needs to take better care of our athletes than they are doing now so we can continue to train and stay in the sport after they complete college."

Still a teen-ager, Janet Evans of Placentia need only worry about winning, which she did twice Saturday. Evans, the world-record holder in the 400-meter freestyle, won that event in 4:13.55.

France's Laurence Bensimon finished second in 4:19.65 and Francie O'Leary of the Click Tucson Swim Club was third in 4:19.65.

Evans held off Mission Viejo High School senior Suzi Burt to win the 200 backstroke in 2:18.53. Burt, who stayed with Evans during the first half of the race, ns was second in 2:22.27, and Natalie Norberg of Industry Hills was third in 2:23.51.

"I felt pretty good," said Evans, who won the 400-meter individual medley but finished fourth in the 200 butterfly Friday.

In the men's 400-meter freestyle, Poland's Artur Wojdat scored his third victory of the meet by edging 1988 U.S. Olympian Dan Jorgensen.

Wojdat, who battled with Jorgensen for the lead for most of the race, had a strong last 100 meters to win. Wojdat was timed in 3:55.09, Jorgensen 3:56.63.

Wojdat's fellow Pole and Mission Viejo Nadadore swim club teammate Mariusz Podkoscielny was third in 3:57.77, and Jorgensen's younger brother, Lars, was fourth in 4:00.80.

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