The daily practice battles between USC teammates Brad Bridgewater and Lenny Krazelburg have managed to push both swimmers to faster times almost every time they show up at a meet.
It was never more evident than Sunday when Bridgewater recorded the sixth-fastest time in the world this year, winning the 200-meter backstroke in 1 minute 59.69 seconds at the Santa Clara International Invitational. Krazelburg was second in 2:00.53, and 1992 Olympic champion Martin Zubero of Spain finished fourth in 2:03.74.
"Lenny is the next thing for the U.S. backstroke, he's got so much talent," Bridgewater said. "He has more talent than I ever had. He gets faster every time he gets in the water. I like to think I have something to do with that.
"We push each other harder than we would ever be able to go on our own. . . . It's competitive and we don't like to lose. Lenny and I are very close. I want him to go as fast as he can, but he's going to have to get by me."
Bridgewater, 23, owns the fourth-fastest time in 1996 with his winning performance at the Olympic trials in 1:59.16. He felt he could have come closer to that Sunday if not for a weird finish, slightly misjudging his closing touch. Still, he went well under the meet record of 2:01.44, set by Jeff Rouse in 1992.
"The thing that was good about this meet is that Martin Zubero was here," Bridgewater said. "He is the guy. I just get nervous swimming against him every time no matter what meet it is. At the Olympics there's two guys from other countries I have to worry about--he's one of them and [Vladimir] Selkov [of Russia] is the other one."
Some people can blow off meets by simply not showing up, but U.S. Olympian Gary Hall Jr. can do that even when he swims, placing 41st in the 100 freestyle (54.61). Yet the trip here wasn't a total waste, as he traveled 60-plus miles Saturday night to watch folk singer David Grisman, who once played with Jerry Garcia. "It was well worth it," Hall said. "Awesome mandolin!"