FEDERAL WAY, WASH., JULY 23 -- Compared with the other swimmers in the Goodwill Games, Janet Evans had a pretty good meet. But one of the drawbacks to being an Olympic gold medalist is being compared to your past.
In winning the 1,500-meter freestyle in 15 minutes 54.23 seconds at the King County Aquatics Center, Evans closed out a meet she had expected to fare better in, one in which she finished 12 seconds off her world-record time in the 800 freestyle and lost for the first time in four years in the 400 individual medley.
Yet disappointment can hardly be defined by her final effort -- in missing her desired world mark in the 1,500 of 15:52.10, she still turned in the second-best time ever in the event. "After swimming so long and being so close it's a little disappointing," Evans said. "But I have to be glad I went under 16 minutes."
If Evans's star seems a bit dimmed after this meet, it can be attributed to the wealth of young women that matured around her. As was the case Saturday, when Evans lost in one of her Olympic gold-medal races -- the 400 and 800 freestyle, and the 400 individual medley -- Summer Sanders, 17, stole the show again last night.
Sanders completed a sweep of the IM races, easily beating the Olympic champion in the 200, Daniella Hunger of East Germany, in 2:14.06. Hunger was never close, falling behind another American high-schooler, Mary Ellen Blanchard, to place third in 2:18.19.
Sanders, who used a strong butterfly stroke to take an immediate lead on Evans in the 400 IM, again maintained the advantage from the start. "I like what we're doing in this meet," said Sanders. "We're coming back as a team. We're winning a lot of the races that were expected to be close, and not just with the East Germans or the Soviets."
The East German women, who dominated swimming through the 1988 Olympics, have not won an individual gold medal yet at the Goodwill Games. Asked what she thought of the new Americans, especially Sanders, Hunger was blunt. "I don't know Summer well, but my best time is 2:12," Hunger said. "At the world championships, we'll have to see again." Said Sanders, sitting at the same table but choosing not to look at Hunger: "I guess we will have to see again."
Hunger had said she has been feeling ill, and earlier had criticized the new King County Aquatics Center -- advertised as one of the top three competition pools in the country -- as not up to world-class standards. But the East German women, who had won only two relay races and no individual gold medals in the first three days, clearly have had problems deeper than the pool.
Their financial and training situations back home are uncertain, and with the two Germanys planning to merge teams after the world championships next January in Perth, several East German swimmers have admitted that their concentration has been incomplete.
The East Germans have also complained about the lack of training time at sea level. Prior to the Goodwill Games, the team spent three weeks in Colorado Springs' mile-high altitude. "We've only been training for this meet for two weeks, so you can't expect optimum results," Hunger said. The political situation, she said, "has not affected us yet. Our training and practice time has been the same. But we don't know what it'll be like when we get home."
Poland's Artur Wodjat, a 6-foot-6 University of Iowa junior next fall, was the first to join Evans as a multiple winner of individual events. A day after out-touching Doug Gjertsen in the 200 freestyle by three-hundreths of a second, Wodjat rallied against another American, Doug Killion, to win the 400 freestyle.
The former world-record holder in that event, Wodjat trailed Killion through the middle stages of the race, then surged in the final 100 meters to finish the fastest time in the world this year, 3:48.61.