Work in Sports
U.S. Swim Trials Notebook
Former teen phenom Nall pulls out of trials to retire
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Anita Nall, her body wracked by chronic fatigue and other ailments, retired from swimming Sunday, eight years after breaking a world record twice in one day in the U.S. Olympic trials.
Nall, 24, failed to advance out of the 100-meter breaststroke preliminaries Friday, tying for 38th out of 91 swimmers. Her time of 1 minute, 13.13 seconds was more than five seconds slower than her silver medal time in the 1992 Olympics.
She decided not to attempt the 200 breast preliminaries Sunday.
"I feel like my body isn't allowing me to do this anymore," said Nall, who was diagnosed with chronic fatigue several years ago when little was known about the syndrome.
Already baffled by its effects on her body, Nall later found out she has a blood pressure abnormality and a milk allergy that interferes with her daily training.
"If I stick to a normal routine, I'm fine and I feel good," she said. "The minute I have some stress I tend to have some kind of ailment come up. Maybe I'll feel 100 million times better and that's what I'm hoping for."
Nall was a 16-year-old from Baltimore when she broke the world record in the 200 breast twice in the same day in the 1992 Olympic trials. She still holds the American record in the 200.
At the Barcelona Olympics, Nall won a silver in the 100 breast, bronze in the 200 breast and gold in the 400 medley relay.
"A lot of times when you grow up in a sport and become famous at an early age, you focus your whole being on swimming," she said. "I don't need to swim to make me feel good about myself. I've evolved as a person and athlete."
By the '96 trials, Nall was sick and her training was off. She didn't make the team and retired. She came back in the summer of 1998, and qualified for the 1999 World University Games, where she was fourth in the 200 breast.
Nall plans to complete a degree in communications at Arizona State, continue holding swim clinics and has been offered an age-group coaching job with Phoenix Swim Club.
"If I had to do it over again, I would've done everything the same way. Things happen for a reason," she said. "I'm excited about my future, but still very proud of my past."
Julia Stowers of Knoxville, Tenn., and Kim Black of Syracuse, N.Y., might want to buy presents for Cristina Teuscher and Dara Torres.
Stowers made the Olympic team in the 800-meter freestyle relay despite finishing out of the top 16 of the 200 free preliminaries. Stowers was 17th and Black 19th.
But Teuscher and Torres scratched the semifinals, opening up spots for Stowers and Black. Stowers was seventh and Black eighth in the semis, where the top eight make the final.
Stowers finished fourth and Black sixth in the final. The top four are expected to make the 800 free relay.
Monica Williams, the 22-year-old daughter of Boston Red Sox manager Jimy Williams, wasn't so lucky. She placed 18th in the prelims and advanced to the semis when Kalyn Keller scratched. But Williams finished 14th and didn't make the final.
Trevor Gray of Tacoma, Wash., would've been a contender in the Olympic trials -- until cancer sidetracked his life.
Gray was third in the 200-meter backstroke at the 1999 summer nationals. Then, he was diagnosed with cancer, forcing him to undergo surgery three months ago to remove his thyroid.
Swimming with a three-inch scar on his neck, Gray finished 29th in the prelims with a time of 2:5.49, about five seconds slower than his pre-cancer times. He failed to advance to the semifinals.
"I guess I did OK considering," he said. "At least I'm alive."
Slow times in the women's 200-meter freestyle don't bode well for America's prospects in Sydney.
Lindsay Benko won the event Saturday night with a time of 2:00.45 -- the slowest winning time at the trials since Shirley Babashoff went 2:00.69 in 1976.
Benko was more than two seconds off the American record, set by Nicole Haislett in 1992, and also failed to crack the top 10 performances in the world this year.