Jan. 15, 1998
Krayzelburg Wins 100 Meter Backstroke at World Championships
USC senior Lenny Krayzelburg, the top-ranked backstroker in the world since August of 1997, solidified his place as one of the sport's elite by winning the 100-meter backstroke on Wednesday (Jan. 15) at the World Championships in Perth, Australia.
Krayzelburg, who won U.S.S. and Pan-Pacific championships last summer in both the 100-meter and 200-meter backstroke events, finished in a time of 55.00, fending off Canada,s Mark Versfeld and Germany,s Stev Theloke. Krayzelburg edged Versfeld, who clocked in at 55.17. Theloke, the top qualifier from the morning heats, swam a 55.20. Krayzelburg was born in Russia but moved to Los Angeles with his family in 1989. He became a U.S. citizen in 1995.
"Growing up in Russia, everyone wanted to be in the U.S., everyone looked up to the U.S.," Krayzelburg said. "So it was a very special moment for me (hearing the national anthem), representing the United States, standing on top of the world."
At the start of the race, Krayzelburg was first to surface and looked strong, but was soon challenged by the field and went through the first turn in sixth place. But Krayzelburg finished well, overtaking the competition in his first major world meet. "There were lots of nerves, but this race was not about time, it's about winning and the entire race was a good one. You've got great guys in there who have come second and third at the Olympics, and it could have gone to anybody. So I'm really pleased it was me." Krayzelburg's work isn,t done yet. He is the favorite in the 200-meter backstroke on Sunday (Jan. 18), though he will get stiff competition from, among others, Trojan Swim Club teammate Brad Bridgewater (U.S.), a gold medalist in the 1996 Olympics in the same event. Krayzelburg isn't alone in Australia. Current USC swimmers Mark Kwok (Hong Kong), Lindsay Benko (U.S.) and Bela Szabados (Hungary) as well as recent alums Bridgewater, Kristine Quance (U.S.) and David Meca (Spain) made it to Perth. Also there is USC Swimming Coach Mark Schubert and USC Head Diving Coach Jeff Shaffer, both serving as assistant coaches on the U.S. team. Meca, who was a senior in 1997, took second in the 25-kilometer freestyle and fifth in the 5-kilometer freestyle. Quance, also a senior last year, took fifth in the 400-meter IM.
Benko, a junior, took eighth in the 200-meter freestyle. Kwok, a junior, took seventh in the 400-meter IM consolation finals. Szabados, a junior, took sixth in the 400-meter freestyle consolation final and eighth in the 200-meter freestyle consolation final.