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Veterans Dominate Day Four of German Nationals/World Champs Trials -- May 18, 2003

By Josh Jeffrey

HAMBURG, Germany, May 17. ACTION continued in Hamburg on day four of the German Nationals/World Championship Trials with the underlying theme of the evening being that age and experience will often triumph over youth and enthusiasm as the majority of races were won by veteran swimmers.

Sandra Volker appears to have focused mainly on 50 meter events in preparation for this meet, as she took a win in the 50 meter backstroke this evening after being beaten soundly by domestic rival Antje Buschschulte in the 100 meter event last night. It should come as no surprise that Volker should win, given that she does hold the world record in this event with a 28.25 from 2000. Tonight, Volker hit the pads at 28.88, with Buschschulte never far behind, touching second at 29.04. Third place went to Jenny Mensing at 30.22.

1996 Olympic breaststroke medalist Mark Warnecke proved he's an oldie but goodie tonight, taking a win in the 50 meter breaststroke with a time of 28.47, nearly a second off his national standard 27.59 from 2001 Worlds. Second place went to Jens Kruppa, a national team fixture who is not having his best meet here, in 28.69. Italo-German dual citizen Oliver Vincenzetti took third (28.78).

The women's 200 meter breaststroke saw three American-trained collegiate swimmers take the top three positions. Georgia's Sarah Poewe took the win in 2:27.60, followed closely by Alabama's Anne Poleska, who after a disappointing seventh in the 100 came back to touch second here at 2:28.04. Rounding out the trifecta was Oregon State's Birte Steven at 2:28.48. Germany's depth in this event is much improved, as five women in total finished under 2:30.

Thomas Rupprath took a second win today in the 50 meter backstroke, an event in which he holds the European record at 25.00, an agonizing hundredth slower than the world mark set by Lenny Krayzelburg at the 1999 Pan Pacs. No records would be set today, but nonetheless Rupprath posted a fine time of 25.45, holding off Steffen Driessen who touched for second in 25.75. Stev Theloke, European record-holder in the 100 meter backstroke, was third in 25.93.

The women's 200 meter freestyle should have been a clear cut win for Franziska van Almsick, darling of the German national team and world record-holder in the event, but she found herself some competition this evening in Hannah Stockbauer, who had already posted two world-leading times over the course of this meet and had yet to lose a race here.

Knowing she'd have to take it out fast to hold off Stockbauer, well-known for her finishing speed, van Almsick split a fast 57.55 at the 100 and hoped it was enough to hang on. Stockbauer split a slower 59.50, but split a final 100 of 1:00.27 to Franzi's 1:01.80. Still, at the finish, it was van Almsick who claimed the win, 1:59.35 to Stockbauer's 1:59.77. With more speedwork, Stockbauer could be a more than formidable competitor in this event. Third place went to Petra Dallmann, also under the 2:00 mark at 1:59.94.

Stefan Herbst won the men's 100 free in 49.64, with Torsten Spannenberg second in 49.91, about three-quarters of a second off of the national mark he set at 2001 Worlds (49.35). Lars Conrad was third in 50.14.

Annika Mehlhorn, 200 fly out of the way, made sure that the women's 200 IM didn't go the way of the 400 two days ago, when Nicole Hetzer made it clear she came to race. Tonight, Mehlhorn led from start to finish, taking the win in 2:15.93 to Hetzer's second-place 2:17.34. Third place went to Maibritt Sommerfeld (2:20.56).

The meet concludes in Hamburg tomorrow evening.