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Chiba Swims Fast, Then Runs Silent

February 10, 1996|ELLIOTT ALMOND

ORLANDO, Fla. — Suzu Chiba was so fast Friday night, she disappeared soon after winning the women's 200-meter freestyle at the Phillips 66 U.S. spring national swimming championships at the YMCA Aquatics Center.

That's the way the Japanese Olympian likes it. She comes to swim and nothing else.

"She doesn't like talking," said Bud McAllister, coach of the Golden West Swim Club in Huntington Beach.

Chiba, 20, came to the United States two years ago at the urging of USC Coach Mark Schubert, who lives in Seal Beach. But her command of English is so limited she could not enter a U.S. university.

After training in Santa Barbara, Chiba, who was second in the 400 free and third in the 50 free Thursday, landed in Huntington Beach. McAllister found a Japanese-American family to host her, and so far she is happy.

She swam faster than two minutes Friday in winning the 200 free in 1:59.80, holding off late challenges from Martina Moravcova of Slovakia and Lauren Thies of Oregon.

Chiba came to the United States to get away from the attention in Japan, where she is one of the country's top swimmers.

"She gets hounded so much, she hates it," McAllister said. "She gets mobbed when she walks down the street.

"She said after the Olympics [in Atlanta], she plans to go to Europe where no one will know her."

No doubt she will vanish quickly.

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