That wasn't a quick case of the flu Anita Nall had last spring. It was mononucleosis.
Before the spring nationals in April, the 1992 Olympic triple medal winner spent five days in bed with what was believed to be the flu. Still, she bounded out to win the 200-meter breaststroke, although in more than three seconds above her world record of 2 minutes, 25.35 seconds.
It wasn't until mid-June that Nall discovered she had mono, and probably had had it for at least three months. She was run-down, tired easily and was unable to recover quickly after strenuous workouts.
After two weeks out of the pool to recuperate and now almost four back in it, Nall feels fit for the Phillips 66 National Championships that will start a five-day run tomorrow in Austin, Texas. She will swim in her specialty, the 200 breaststroke, on Tuesday and the 100 on Thursday.
"If I swim as good or better than I did in the spring, I'll be happy," said Nall, the North Baltimore Aquatic Club swimmer who turned 17 Wednesday.
Her reward if she has a first or second in Austin will be a berth on the U.S. team that will compete in the Pan Pacific Championships on Aug. 12-15 in Kobe, Japan.
It was after the second day of a three-day NBAC meet at Meadowbrook Pool last month that Nall sought medical attention again.
"I was worse," she said. "I had chest pains and bronchitis, so the doctor ran another blood test. It was mono. I had had it all along, and was toward the end of it."
NBAC coach Murray Stephens is not about to predict what a healthy Nall will do in Austin.
"She wants another No. 1 world ranking in the 200, which she's had the past two years," Stephens said.
In fact, "all our Austin people should do well, especially the girls," he said, noting that Nall, Kelly McPherson and Whitney Metzler joined to give NBAC fifth place among the women at the spring nationals.
"They want to reach the finals [top eight], swim their best times and move up on the list of the world's top-150 swimmers. They're capable of that."
After the Olympics last summer, Nall got her driver's license. Now she drives a 1993 Nissan Pathfinder, compliments of Dr. Dave Joyner, an orthopedic surgeon in Harrisburg, Pa., where the Nalls lived until four years ago.
"He realized the kid needed transportation and was driving a 1984 Volvo with 100,000 miles on it," said John Nall, Anita's father.
On the side of the car is a logo emblazoned with a helmet and No. 70 (Joyner played football at Penn State) and the words, Sportsmedicine Institute. He and associates have a sports medicine firm in suburban Harrisburg.
"He treated my sister Kim's knees and he looked at my right shoulder," said Nall, who has been bothered periodically by shoulder impingement, common among swimmers. "He wanted to sponsor me."
In between twice daily workouts, Nall has been entertaining a friend from Spain, Marta Sanvincente. Last summer, Nall's mother, Marilyn, met Sanvincente's mother on a train bound for the Olympic pool in Barcelona.
On Linda Sanvincente's lap was a copy of Swimming World with Anita's photo on the cover. Sitting beside her, Marilyn Nall became engaged in conversation. As it turned out, Linda Sanvincente was intent on getting Anita to autograph the magazine.
"My sister Jen stayed with the Sanvincentes for a couple of months when she was studying there last winter," Nall said. "Marta's grandparents live in Cape Cod, and she's with us for three weeks."
For Nall, the friendship is an enduring part of the Olympic experience.
SET TO MAKE WAVES
North Baltimore Aquatic Club Swimmer .. .. .. Event
Anita Nall .. .. 100 breaststroke
.. .. .. . .. .. 200 breaststroke
.. .. .. . .. .. 200 IM
Scott Conley ... 100 butterfly
.. .. .. . .. .. 200 butterfly
Chris Kern .. .. 800 freestyle
Whitney .. .. .. 100 breaststroke
Metzler .. .. .. 200 breast
.. .. .. . .. .. 400 IM
Whitney .. .. .. 100 butterfly
Phelps ... .. .. 200 butterfly
Kelly . .. .. .. 400 freestyle
McPherson ... .. 800 freestyle
.. .. .. . ... 1,500 freestyle
Retriever Aquatic Club Dan VanHemert .. 200 freestyle
Elysia . . .. .. 100
Moreland . .. .. 200 butterfly
.. .. .. . .. .. 400 IM
.. .. .. . .. .. three relays
Ingrid Kilpe ... three relays
Jennifer Atkins. three relays
Rachel Handshu . three relays