In the case of breaststroker John Hencken, 22, a world record in Long Beach was probably within his reach—had he been interested. Hencken faces a showdown in Montreal with Great Britain's David Wilkie, but at the moment anyway he is unique among U.S. men by being head and shoulders above his homegrown rivals. In a morning heat of the 200 meters he swam a 2:18.99, barely missing his world record of 2:18.21, then eased up to win the final easily enough in 2:19.37. Later, in the 100, Hencken again came off an early world record pace to finish in 1:04.20, less than half a second slower than his mark for that event.
Hencken was a study in equanimity before both breaststrokes, laughing and chatting with his Santa Clara teammates right up to the moment he stepped up to the blocks. He was equally relaxed afterward. "I could have gone faster, but it wasn't necessary," he said after his win in the 200 over veteran Rick Colella, who will also go to Montreal. "I was experimenting with some different things." It was a relief to find one of the men at Long Beach who was interested in something more than carving up his countrymen. At the same time, neither did John Hencken feel confident enough to indulge himself in any pre-race turkey sandwiches, which could point out the vastly different prospects of the men's and women's swim teams the U.S. will send to Montreal.