FEDERAL WAY, Wash. -- It took more than two months for Baltimore's Anita Nall to return to swimming. It took a little more than two minutes at the Phillips 66 Spring Nationals for her to discover she's on the way back -- but yesterday Nall got upstaged by a member of her own team.
Nall, the 1992 Olympic gold medalist did not compete from December through the end of February while battling mononucleosis. She returned to the water in February and competed for the first time yesterday. She responded with a second-place finish in the 200-meter breaststroke.
That didn't surprise. What did shock was another second-place garnered by Nall's North Baltimore Aquatic Club teammate, Whitney Metzler, who won silver behind Michelle Griglione in the 200-meter butterfly.
Metzler is only 13 years old. Last summer she was named rookie of the meet in the nationals and she will join the U.S. national junior team in May for a meet in Paris.
"Everyone thinks I'm so upset because I didn't win, but I'm happy to get second," said Nall, a senior at Towson Catholic. "I'm not that far away from getting all the way back."
Kristine Quance won the event in 2 minutes, 28.55 seconds, but Nall displayed shades of her past form in rallying for second place. She shaved nearly four seconds off her qualifying time in the final to finish in 2:30.95.
"It's really her first swim since December," said Murray Stephens, coach of the NABC. "It takes a lot of courage for her to get back into the pool."
Nall had a respectable time of 2:34.67 in the morning qualifying heats, but far from her once-world record 2:25.35. The top two finishers in each event can compete in the Goodwill Games this summer in St. Petersburg, Russia. Nall said she will not go.
Two weeks ago, Nall wasn't even certain she would be making the trip to Federal Way. She said she was feeling OK, but her endurance wasn't up to par after the short training period. She surprised herself and Stephens.
"She could be swimming well by this summer if she remains healthy," Stephens said.
Remaining healthy has been a problem for Nall in the past year. She first contracted mononucleosis last spring and had a recurrence of the illness this winter. Yesterday however, she looked golden again.
Nall will compete in the 100 breaststroke tomorrow.
Another Maryland swimmer, Brooke Donoho of the Greater Baltimore Swimming Association, finished eighth in the Quance-Nall race.
In another women's feature race, Nicole Haislett, a three-time gold medalist two years ago, took her 10th national title, winning the 100 freestyle in 56.25 seconds, beating Denmark's Gitta Jensen in 57.10.
On the men's side, Mel Stewart, 1992 Olympic gold medalist and world-record holder in the 200-meter butterfly, became the first U.S. swimmer to win 11 national titles in the same event.
The two-time Olympian led wire-to-wire in 1:58.32. Turkish-born Ugur Taner was second in 1:59.77.
Stewart passed retired Mary T. Meagher (200 butterfly) and Janet Evans (800 freestyle), with 10 individual championships each.
Stewart had a severe case of jet lag. He arrived here from Knoxville, Tenn., after competing in a meet in Paris last Saturday.
U.S. SWIMMING CHAMPIONSHIPS
100m freestyle -- 1, Nicole Haislett, Florida, 56.25 seconds. 2, Gitta Jensen, SMU, 57.10. 3, Richelle DePold, Colonie Aquatic, 57.59. 4, Barbara Bedford, Unattached, 57.62. 5, Angie Wester-Krieg, Stanford, 57.64. 6, Kim Johnson, COPS, 57.71. 7, Emith Smith, Badger, 57.94. Mary Edwards, Stanford, DQ.
200m breaststroke -- 1, Kristine Quance, USC, 2:28.75. 2, Anita Nall, North Baltimore, 2:30.95. 3, Guylaine Cloutier, Laval, 2:31.74. 4. Annemiek McReynolds, Scenic City, 2:35.11. 5, Cathy O'Neill, COPS, 2:35.13. 6, Alison Fealey, Cincinnati Marlins, 2:35.16. 7, Kella Hoblick, Clovis, 2:36.73. 8, Brooke Donoho, Greater Baltimore, 2:37.21.
200m backstroke -- 1, Suzanne Toledo, Southwest Michigan, 2:12.26. 2, Lea Loveless, Badger, 2:12.60. 3, Rachel Joseph, Eugene City, 2:13.91. 4, Kristy Heydanek, Santa Clara, 2:15.01. 5, Anna Simcic, California, 2:15.26. 6, Dede Trimble, Massacusetts Bay Marlins, 2:15.55. 7, Hope Gittings, USC, 2:15.96. 8, Paige Wilson, Athens Bulldogs, 2:16.84.
200m butterfly -- 1, Michelle Griglione, Curl-Burke, 2:12.72. 2, Whitney Phelps, North Baltimore, 2:13.27. 3, Angie Wester-Krieg, Stanford, 2:13.83. 4, Collin Sherman, Bolles, 2:14.98. 4, Kerri Hale, Club Wolverine, 2:14.98. 6, Karin Bunting, Foxcatcher, 2:16.49. 7, Kirsten Silvester, Club Wolverine, 2:16.59. 8, Paige Wilson, Athens Bulldogs, 2:16.73.
100m freestyle -- 1, Gustavo Borges, Michigan, 49.64. 2, Gary Hall, Jr., Phoenix, 50.27. 3, Ugur Taner, Chinook, 50.42. 4, Yoav Bruck, Las Vegas Gold, 50.70. 5, Scott Jeff, Las Vegas Gold, 50.80. 6, Atilla Zubor, Hungary, 50.86. 7, Jay Hladish, Ohio State, 51.06. 8, Seth Pepper, Hillenbrand, 51.09.
200m breaststroke -- 1, Norbert Rosza, Hungary, 2:13.58. 2, Steve West, Michigan, 2:16.11. 3, Seth Van Neerden, Fort Lauderdale, 2:16.20. 4, Sergio Lopez, Curl-Burke, 2:16.89. 5, Nuk Sirisanont, Bolles, 2:17.21. 6, Todd Torres, Fort Lauderdale, 2:17.25. 7, Roque Santos, Curl-Burke, 2:18.63. 8, Marcel Wouda, Michigan, 2:19.08.
200m backstroke -- 1, Brad Bridgewater, Texas, 1:59.15. 2, Greg Burgess, Florida, 2:00.46. 3, Bart Sikora, Mission Viejo, 2:01.70. 4, Jason Lancaster, Carmel Swim Club, 2:02.40. 5, Neil Walker, 2:03.21. 6, Oliver Agh, Hungary, 2:04.19. 7, Jason Stelle, USC, 2:04.95. 8, Tim O'Mara, USC, 2:05.94.
200m butterfly -- 1, Mel Stewart, Unattached. 2, Ugur Taner, Chinook, 1:59.77. 3, Tom Malchow, Star, 1:59.86. 4, Yann deFabrique, North Carolina, 2:00.85. 5, Matt Hooper, Alamo Area, 2:00.87. 6, Peter Horvath, Hungary, 2:00.88. 7, Ben Mercier, Clovis, 2:02.62. 8, Casey Barrett, USC.