Former Stanford All-American swimmer Janet Evans began her comeback at age 39 by setting a pair of world records in the 35-39 age division at the Janet Evans Invitational, a Masters meet, during the weekend at the Janet Evans Swim Complex in Fullerton. It was her first competitive races since the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.
Evans, a mother of two, won her age division in the 400-meter free in 4:23.82 and won the 800 free in 8:59.06 to become the first woman in her age bracket ever to break 9:00 as she lowered the previous mark by 10 seconds. She swam the 800 free alone as two other swimmers -- one 89 and one 92 -- scratched.
Evans has said she plans on making a run for the 2012 Olympics in London but is far off the times likely to get there. The No. 1 American currently in the 400 free and 800 free is Chloe Sutton, who has times of 4:06.04 and 8:29.20. Those times rank No. 9 and 11, respectively, in the world this season.
Sutton, however, won last year's 800 free title in 8:24.77 at the USA Swimming national championships and American Kate Ziegler won the Pan Pacific title in the 800 in 8:21 while third place was 8:26.38. Evans took notice.
Evans reportedly has been training eight months with a goal of making her fourth Olympic team. She told The Associated Press that she could swim at the USA Swimming nationals at Stanford in August, when she turns 40.
Evans came to Stanford after winning two gold medals at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, Korea. She swam two seasons before transferring to USC. Evans failed to add to her Olympic medal total after finishing sixth in the 800 free at the Atlanta Games in 1996.
Evans told AP that her current swimming weight is 112, much lighter than the 130 pounds she carried in Atlanta.
Evans set world records in both the 400 and 800 freestyles as a 17-year-old at El Dorado High in Fullerton. The 400 mark of 4:03.85 lasted until 2006 and the 800 mark of 8:16.22 remained intact for 19 years.