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SYDNEY 2000 / SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES | SWIMMING

Early Rounds Prove Taxing

September 21, 2000|LISA DILLMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SYDNEY, Australia — Hoogie and the Blowfish were at it again in the pool.

There was no letup for double gold medalist Pieter van den Hoogenband of the Netherlands and his chief challengers, Alexander Popov of Russia and Gary Hall Jr.

The three medal winners Wednesday night in the 100-meter freestyle--Popov and Hall took the silver and bronze behind Van den Hoogenband--were churning away in the water a few hours later in the preliminaries of the 50 freestyle.

"I feel a little bit sleepy," Popov said. "It was hard to get to sleep after doping control because I drank too much."

Said Hall: "I just hope the 100 didn't take too much out of me. I'd like to see a world record, but everyone is very tired."

Even the Dutch star, who was the first man since Mark Spitz to win the 100 and 200 freestyles in the same Olympics, is wilting.

"He is very tired at the moment," said his coach, Jacco Verhaeren.

Even Olympic rookie, 19-year-old Anthony Ervin of Valencia, who did not swim in the 100, was not fully rested. "I didn't have much sleep last night, I was a little concerned," he said.

All this left room for a new sprint force on the world scene: Bart Kizierowski of Poland was the fastest qualifier for tonight's semifinals in 22.05 seconds, ahead of Hall, Popov, Ervin and Van den Hoogenband at Sydney International Aquatic Center.

"I am pretty happy with that, for my first 50, it was a pretty nice swim," Kizierowski said.

His performance isn't entirely surprising when you consider Kizierowski's pedigree. He swam for Coach Bill Rose's Mission Viejo Nadadores and Cal before heading to Phoenix to train with an international powerhouse group of sprinters, guided by Coach Mike Bottom.

"Bart's been hanging around for a long time," Rose said. "If he can handle the pressure, he's as good as anyone. The 50 is a matter of getting powerful arrogance. He's starting to get it."

The other notable morning swim was from defending Olympic champion Brooke Bennett in the 800 freestyle. Bennett, who already won the 400 meters here, was the fastest qualifier for the final in 8:26.47, a better time than her winning performance at the 1996 Olympics. Kaitlin Sandeno of Lake Forest qualified third in 8:30.12.

Bennett had been aiming for 8:28, so she was pleased with her swim. The final is Friday, but Bennett did not want to stay away from the pool.

"The only thing I could do is go back to the village and sit and twiddle my thumbs," she said. "It's a lot more exciting being here."

Meanwhile, there was continuing fallout after U.S. women's Coach Richard Quick's comments Wednesday night. Quick said there was a cloud over this meet and suspected the competition was not drug free. He offered no names or countries, saying it was his intuition.

"He's probably right," Australian Coach Scott Volkers said.

The Americans have been critical of the lack of frequency of drug testing, particularly out of competition. But the Quick comments had journalists wondering if the remarks were veiled criticism of Dutch stars Inge de Bruijn and Van den Hoogenband.

"I don't want to point a finger at the Americans," said Verhaeren, who coaches both. "Because it [the criticism] is all around the world. Luckily, I have very good colleagues, also, all around the world. But unluckily, there are some people who are jealous. I don't know why they do it. It makes me sad. But that's it."

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