Forum Spin Doctor
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Olympic gold medalist Lenny Krayzelburg is back in the water, and his comeback is off to a good start.
Mary Descenza of the Athens (Ga.) Bulldog Swim Club won the 200 freestyle (2:01.05) and the 100 butterfly (59.47). Ian Crocker, who holds the world record in the men's 100 butterfly, won the event with a 52.78.
Krayzelburg, who underwent shoulder surgery after the 2004 Games, finished fourth in Friday night's 100-meter backstroke finals with a time of 56.93 seconds at the U.S. Open Swimming Championships. Ryan Lochte won the event and set a meet record in 54.37.
It was Krayzelburg's first major competition since the Athens games.
"For a first meet coming back, I was pretty happy," he said after the race at Purdue's Boilermaker Aquatic Center. "It's going to take some time, but it's a good start."
It was a solid return for the four-time gold medal winner, whose career had been in doubt.
"I was basically planning my future outside of the sport," he said. "It was in the back of my mind to maybe move on, but I really never gave up on it 100 percent."
Although the 31-year-old Krayzelburg said he was excited to swim at the U.S. Open, he's taking a wait-and-see approach with his health. He's had three surgeries on his left shoulder.
"It's one step at a time, making sure that my shoulder is doing well and that it feels right," he said. "Ultimately, if there's one thing that's going to hold me back or not allow me to pursue my goals, it's going to be a shoulder problem."
Krayzelburg is scheduled to swim only the 100 backstroke at the U.S. Open.
"When I was in the prime of my career, the 200 backstroke was actually my better event," he said. "I'm not at that point anymore from a physical standpoint, so the focus is just the 100."
Mark Schubert, head coach for the U.S. national team, was happy to see Krayzelburg back competing.
"The United States team needs leadership like that," said Schubert, who coached Krayzelburg in college at Southern California. "If he can come back healthy, he's definitely going to be a factor."
Krayzelburg said he'll continue his comeback following Friday's meet. He plans to swim next at the USA Swimming Spring Championships in March.
"My obvious goal is to position myself to make the Olympic team in 2008," he said. "Any time you position yourself and make the team for the U.S., you have a really good shot at winning a gold medal."
Schubert believes that Krayzelburg has a shot at making the Olympic team.
"The guy is just a tremendous competitor," Schubert said. "He's got the heart, he's got the talent and he's got the perseverance."
Krayzelburg said he was proud of his career even if his comeback bid falls short.
"I don't need to prove anything to anyone," he said. "I'm just doing it because I really enjoy the sport, the competition, and the preparation for racing."
In other races Friday, Katie Hoff broke a 19-year-old meet record en route to winning the 400-meter individual medley. Hoff, who won the event in 4:38.38, broke the previous meet record set by Janet Evans in 1987.
Michael Phelps won two more events, bringing his total to four championships through the opening two days of the meet. On Friday, he won the 200 freestyle in 1:49.48, and he was part of Club Wolverine's first-place 400 medley relay.
Kirsty Coventry broke a 15-year-old meet record in the women's 100 backstroke with her winning time of 1:01.34.