Baltimore Sun

Long odds in 100 fly nothing new for Hannan, a risk taker himself

SYDNEY, Australia - Tommy Hannan doesn't mind being a long shot at the Olympics. He knows the drill, because that's the role he took to the U.S. trials.

A 1998 graduate of Mount St. Joseph High School, Hannan went to the swim trials in Indianapolis last month as an afterthought in the 100-meter butterfly. He finished second, posted the third-fastest time ever by an American and delayed his junior year at the University of Texas to come Down Under.

The 100 fly preliminaries and semifinals will be held tomorrow at the International Aquatic Center. Hannan came here with the ninth-fastest time in the world this year, and his meet isn't limited to that event. The 400 medley relay will conclude an amazing Olympic swim competition, and Hannan said he will help the United States in either Friday's morning preliminaries or Saturday night's finale.

No matter which round of the relay he swims, Hannan would get any medal the U.S. team earns in the final. He is anticipating a golden weekend, Australians or no.

The Aussies have the two fastest men ever in the 100 fly, relay hero Michael Klim and Geoff Heugill. Hannan wasn't even in their zip code last May, but he had a breakthrough in the event early in the summer and dipped to 52.81 seconds in the trials final.

Casinos are as prevalent in Australia as neon on Ritchie Highway. Wagering on the Olympics is not accepted in the state of New South Wales, but when the U.S. swimmers trained in Brisbane, Hannan checked his odds.

"My odds were like 26-1," Hannan said. "I probably would have gotten a little better in Indianapolis, maybe 10-1. This is a very similar situation for me. It's the same thing I overcame at the trials. There are a couple of guys who are tough, but they're not indestructible. Anyone can have a bad day."

There have been no bad days for Hannan in the summer of 2000. An uncle took a job here a few years ago, so Hannan has family living two miles from the Olympic Village at Homebush Bay. Three generations of his family planned to stay at Uncle Yo's.

Hannan said it gets cold in the Village at night, an ironic observation considering a silly contest the daredevil won at the Olympic training camp in Pasadena, Calif. He outlasted Ed Moses and Pat Calhoun to see who could keep their hand in a bucket of ice water the longest.

Hannan will take no chances with his diet, however. He pines for the Mexican food that is his staple in Austin, but he is taking a much blander route here.

"The dining hall at the athlete's village is immense," Hannan said. "Nothing too exotic for me though - I'm sticking with the all-American food. It's the only thing I can really trust. I had some food from McDonald's in the morning. I never eat at McDonald's at home."