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Lenton Sets Commonwealth mark on First Night of Aussie Short Course Champs -- August 2, 2003

By Kurt Hanson

HOBART, Australia, August 2. RECORDS tumbled tonight on the Day One finals of the 2003 Telstra Australian Short Course Championships at the Tattersall's Hobart Aquatic Centre, with Brisbane teenager, Lisbeth Lenton leading the charge with a new Commonwealth mark in the 100 meters freestyle.

Melbourne University breaststroke specialists Brenton Rickard and Brooke Hanson chimed in with Australian records in their respective 50 meter breaststroke semi-finals.

A near full house at the Tattersall’s Hobart Aquatic Centre witnessed some classy performances on the opening finals session, highlighted by a sensational semifinal swim by 18-year-old Lenton, who became only the fourth woman in history to clock under 53 seconds, with her time of 52.97 seconds, equaling the seventh fastest time in history.

Those who have swum faster are world record holder Theresa Alshammar (Sweden) 52.17, 52.80, 52.89; Inge de Bruijn (Netherlands) 52.65, 52.95 and Martina Moravacova (Slovakia) 52.96 and 52.97.

Lenton came out on pool deck in a eye-catching cherry colored Speedo swim suit and stripped 0.29 seconds off the previous mark held by Great Britain’s Susan Rolph.

Lenton said after the race: “My coach (Stephan Widmer) just told me to go out and race and that’s just what I did, working well on all my underwater. It felt fast but not that fast.

“I was totally shocked when I saw the time and to know I swam under 53 seconds was a real buzz.”

The Brisbane-based sprint freestyle specialist, who took bronze at the recent World Championships in the 50 meter freestyle, will get another chance to lower the mark tomorrow night when she races the final against fellow Dolphins Jodie Henry and Alice Mills.

It seemed speedy semifinals were the order of the evening when breaststrokers Brenton Rickard and Brooke Hanson opened proceedings with Australian records in their respective 50 meter qualifiers, before winning the gold medals later in the evening.

The 19-year-old, Rickard clocked a great time of 27.36 to break retired veteran Phil Rogers' mark by 0.16 of a second with a fast finish, giving him a surprise when he looked up at the scoreboard.

Victoria shared in the spoils again when in-form sprint specialist Brooke Hanson lowered her own nataional record set last month by 0.20 of a second and Emma Igelstrom’s Australian All-Comers record, when she stopped the clock at 30.44 – the seventh fastest swim in history.

Like Lenton, she is also the fourth fastest swimmer in history, behind world record holder Igelstrom, 2003 long course world champion Luo Xuejuan and Commonwealth record holder Zoe Baker.

It is the second time in a week that Hanson has celebrated success after taking silver in the 50 meter event at the World Championships in Barcelona.

Other winners on night one were WA pair Adam Lucas (West Coast, WA) in the men's 400 IM (4:11.99) and Lara Carroll (Fremantle Port) 4:40.77 in the women's 400 IM; Felicity Galvez (Campbelltown, NSW) 2:08.50 in the 200 fly; Stephen Penfold (Miami, Qld) 1:46.67 in the 200m freestyle and Matt Welsh (Melbourne Vicentre) in the 50m backstroke in 23.73.

Meanwhile in the men's 4x100m freestyle relay, the Nunawading foursome of Jared Clarke, Andrew Dyson, Jason Cohen and Nathan Taylor won their fourth consecutive National title, while Chandler's talented teenagers Alice Mills, Briody Murphy, Melanie Houghton and Jodie Henry clocked an Australian club record of 8:00.34 to win the 4x200m freestyle relay.