FEDERAL WAY, Wash. -- Eric Shanteau is cancer-free and winning races again.
Shanteau, who was diagnosed with testicular cancer a few weeks before last year's Olympic trials, pulled ahead midway through the breaststroke leg and went on to win the 200-medley individual medley on Thursday during the first night of competition at the U.S. Short Course championships.
Shanteau's final time at the King County Aquatic Center was 1 minute, 44.05 seconds, nearly 1½ seconds ahead of runner-up Andre Schultz.
The 26-year-old Shanteau, of Snellville, Ga., wound up making the Olympic team last year and placed 10th in the 200-meter breaststroke in Beijing. He had surgery following the Games and said he remains cancer-free.
"I passed the one-year mark in September, and the chances of recurrence have dropped dramatically," said Shanteau, who nevertheless remains cautious, adding: "I don't want to jinx myself."
Shanteau, who won bronze in the 200-meter IM at the World Championships in Rome this past summer and was part of the gold medal U.S. 400 medley relay team in that meet, trailed through the first two legs of Thursday's final. He surged in front in the middle of the breaststroke leg and then pulled away in the closing 50 yards of freestyle.
"It felt pretty good, and obviously, I'm happy that I won," Shanteau said. "I was a little off from where I was at this point last year, but I'm deeper into my training. Last year, I was just coming off of surgery."
Dagny Knutson, a 17-year-old high school senior from Minot, N.D., won her fourth Short Course national title -- in her fourth different event. Knutson cruised to a six-second victory in the women's 500 freestyle, breaking her own hours-old meet record with a 4:31.18. She went 4:34.06 during a preliminary heat in the morning. Knutson's time in the finals was less than a second away from Katie Hoff's 2007 American record of 4:30.47.
Knutson won the 200-yard freestyle, the 200 individual medley and the 400 individual medley during last year's Short Course nationals in Atlanta. She was also second in the 100 free. She did not swim in the 200 IM this year but will be in the other three events. She is seeded No. 1 in the 400 IM prelims, No. 2 in the 200 free and No. 3 in the 100 free.
"I don't have a favorite. Between the IM and the free, I go back and forth as to what my best event actually is," Knutson said. "I just try to stay good in all of them."
Peter Vanderkaay won the men's 500 free in 4:12.60. That was four seconds off his American record of 4:08.54 but nearly 10 seconds faster than the 4:22.20 he swam in Thursday's prelims, which made him just the third seed for the finals.
Ariana Kukors, from the Seattle suburb of Auburn and swimming in what at one time was her home pool, took the 200 IM in 1:55.40. Kukors won the 200-meter IM title at last summer's World Championships in Rome.
Amanda Weir won the women's 50 free in 22.23 seconds, and Nathan Adrian took the men's 50 in 19.34.