Evans steps up comeback bid

2012-01-13 08:07

Austin - Four-time Olympic gold medallist Janet Evans will step up her comeback bid with two races this week at the Austin Grand Prix swimming meeting.

Evans, a teenage Olympic superstar at the 1988 Seoul Games, is now a 40-year-old mother of two aiming to test herself against the latest crop of top international swimmers.

In Austin she'll swim the 400m and 800m freestyle, hoping she can move closer to securing a London Games berth by qualifying for the US Olympic swimming trials.

Evans tested herself in June, when her return to racing saw her set Masters age group world records in the 400m and 800m freestyles.

At the time she said the results showed her that her training was "right about where I thought it was," although her times have her seeded 51st going into the heats of the 400m free and 38th in the 800m free.

Evans was 17 when she set a 400m freestyle world record and took three gold medals at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. She also won 800m free gold at the 1992 Barcelona Games and eventually owned world records in the 800m and 1,500m freestyles.

Evans' onetime dominance of women's distance swimming was demonstrated by the longevity of her records. The 400m free world record that she set in Seoul stood until France's Laure Manaudou broke it in 2006.

The 800m free world record she set in 1989 stood until Britain's Rebecca Adlington broke it at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

"Excited to swim against all the fast kids," Evans, who lives in California, tweeted before flying to Austin on Thursday.

A bevy of top US swimmers will arrive in Austin with London on their mind, including 14-time Olympic gold medallist Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte and Missy Franklin.

Franklin, the 16-year-old sensation who won five medals at the World Championships in Shanghai, is slated to swim seven events.

Phelps, who won an unprecedented eight golds in Beijing has said he wants to cap his Games career in London, is entered in six events.