Vanderkaay: 3:43.82 400 Free
Craig Lord
Club Wolverine freestyler adds his name to list of favourites for Olympic 400m freestyle crown with 6th best time ever

Peter Vanderkaay (Rochester, Mich.) set an American record of 3:43.82 in the 400m freestyle at the grand prix in Santa Clara, California. The time shaved 0.29sec of Klete Keller?s2004 national record and compared to a previous personal bests of 3:44.41 from April this year and 3:45.55 in 2007. Already seventh fastest ever, Vanderkaay, coached by Bob Bowman at Club Wolverine, leap-frogged Keller to take the sixth-best slot. He is also 4th-best among those in the hunt for gold at the Olympic Games in Beijing.

The all-time Top 10:

3:40.08 Thorpe 2002
3:42.51 Hackett
3:43.40 Rosolino
3:43.59 Park
3:43.80 Perkins 1994
3:43.82 Vanderkaay
3:44.11 Keller
3:44.44 Prilukov
3:44.56 Vendt
3:44.97 Zhang

In Vanderkaay's wake came Erik Vendt (North Easton, Mass.), in the midst of a difficult week in which he found himself the target of legal action by TYR, on 3:46.56, with Michael Klueh (Evansville, Ind.) third in 3:48.79. Vendt's best this year is a 3:44.56, against a 2007 best of 3:47.53. The dam is building in the 400m, Thorpe's stunning time the target for those with a golden eye.

Olympic champion Aaron Peirsol (Irvine, Calif.) kept Michael Phelps (Baltimore, Md.) at bay in the 200m backstroke, 1:55.81 to 1:55.84, with Phelps coming back at the end but falling just shy of causing upset. Those two times are faster than any others in the world this year. Third was Chris DeJong (Holland, Mich.) in 1:57.61. Phelps was back in the water later in the session to set a meet ercord of 51.61 in the 100m butterfly as he continues his preparation for a multiple-event summer. Which will it be: 'fly or backstroke? Either way, the toughest opponents among those who lie in his path to the peak of the podium will be his teammates, going on form to date.

Natalie Coughlin, Olympic and world champion, matched the time at which she had held the 100m backstroke world record, 59.44, before breaking it earlier this year with a 59.21. Second went to world 200m champion Margaret Hoelzer (Huntsville, Ala.), in 1:01.13.

The 400m medley went to 15-year-old Elizabeth Beisel in a meet record of 4:36.75 ahead of Ava Ohlgren (Northville, Mich.), on 4:39.69, and Julia Smit (Mt. Sinai, N.Y.), on 4:39.76. That event is threatening to produce a sub-4:40 field from one nation in the not-too-distant future.

Tara Kirk (Bremerton, Wash.) won the 100m breaststroke in 1:08.36, the 200m free went to Bronte Barratt (AUS) in a meet record of 1:57.18 and Roland Schoeman (RSA) was in solid form, with a meet record of 22.29, a time that would have looked an awful lot better three months ago than it does today.