THOMPSON BREAKS MARY T’s WORLD RECORD!; HEYNS AND THORPE ALSO BREAK WR’S
By Stephen J. Thomas
Most of us were expecting to wait until the evening finals to see the A$25,000 go to the first woman to break a long course world record in the Sydney Olympic pool. However, the record-breaking performances were not about to abate. The morning heats of the second day of competition saw Penny Heyns from South Africa break the 100m breaststroke record she had lowered twice only last month on the other side of the Pacific. American Jenny Thompson finally beat Mary T Meagher’s 1981 100m butterfly mark but missed the money by just one session. Not to be outdone by the women, the unstoppable Aussie human Thorpedo (Ian Thorpe) cruised to a new world mark in a semi-final of the 200m freestyle. Its not all about money though as Thorpe announced, after receiving his A$25,000 prize, that he was giving the entire amount to charity.
Women’s 100m Butterfly Final
Jenny Thompson lowered her 1995 meet record of 59.00 in the second semi-final clocking 58.57 and set the scene for a world record swim. Thompson powered down the first 50m touching in 26.94 (.81 under the record) and held her form coming home to record 57.88 and finally break the second oldest world record in the book. “It’s a dream come true,” she said after her win. “I can’t believe it. I’m so psyched. I was just thinking it’s really amazing, there’s been so many world records. “It’s a fantastic pool, fantastic meet. I hope more here next year.” Aussie Susie O’Neill stayed within a body length of Thompson for most of the way to record her best time (59.07) and lifted her to 14th all-time performer and second best ever Australian behind Petria Thomas who did not compete due to a shoulder injury. Ayari Aoyama of Japan was third in 59.58. Misty Hyman (US) was below her best in 1:00.39
Women’s 100m Breaststroke Preliminaries
Penny Heyns completed a phenomenal fifth world record swim in a row, taking another 0.43 off her own time in the second heat to record 1:06.52. She turned at the 50m in 31.16. In the semi-final she swam 1:06.99 to beat her nearest rival by over one and a half seconds. Americans Kristy Kowal (1:08.62) and Megan Quann (1:09.16) were next best into the final with Tanaka of Japan and Riley of Australia. “I didn’t come into the race thinking of times,” Heyns said. In her current form it would seem that it is only a matter of time before she lowers her mark again – even in the final.
Men’s 200m Freestyle Semi-finals
As was the case in the 400m, Ian Thorpe unleashed a powerful final 100m to produce his second world record of this meet in 1:46.34. He seemed to swim the race with such ease and has the power to pull away at the finish. In doing so he beat Grant Hackett’s five month-old record of 1:46.67.
His splits were: 25.03 52.50 1:19.35 1:46.34
Always understated, Thorpe said after the race, “it was a bit of a surprise to me, I hadn’t fully recovered from last night.” (referring to his 400m WR) “It will be a great race tomorrow night.” Will there be another world record? “Who knows,” he replied.
Hackett, who was second in Thorpe’s semi, said after the race that he had been suffering from a flu virus for the past few days and it had affected his performance at the meet. His time of 1:48.20 meant he was the 3rd fastest Aussie but would not make the final. He was not sure at this stage if he would swim the 1500m at the end of the meet.
In the first semi-final Michael Klim was under Thorpe’s new world record pace at the third turn (1:18.96) but in contrast to Thorpe, faded over the last fifteen meters to record 1:46.82 (6th best all time swim). The time beat his personal best achieved in winning at the World Championships in Perth. Klim’s splits were: 24.70 51.66 1:18.96 1:46.82
Americans Chad Carvin swam 1:48.74 and Josh Davis 1:48.92. Ryk Neethling qualified for the final in 1:49.72
Women’s 400m freestyle Final
Brooke Bennett (4:08.39) had to battle all the way with US teammate Lindsey Benko (4:08.75) to win gold in the 400m freestyle. Benko’s time was almost two seconds better than her PB set in the heats (8th fastest US performer). Claudia Poll, the event title-holder from Costa Rica came in 3rd in 4:11.53. Rachel Harris of Australia was 4th in 4:14.80 Bennett said after the race, it was good to experience the Olympic pool; “to get a good feel in the water … know what it is going to look like next year.” She felt she was in good shape for the 800m freestyle later in the week.
Men’s 400 Individual Medley Final
Australian Matthew Dunn put in a sensational freestyle leg to bring the home crowd to their feet, overhauling American Tom Wilkens and then Canadian Curtis Myden in the last few strokes. Dunn’s win, in a time of 4:16.54, was reminiscent of his Commonwealth Games victory over Myden in Victoria, Canada in 1994. After breaking his leg and being out of the water for some time earlier this year, Dunn had not been confident about his chances a few week ago making his performance all the more rewarding. Myden’s time was 4:16.77. Wilkens led after the first three legs of the race but finished third in 4:18.58. The time was below his best achieved at the US Spring Nationals (4:17.12) but was one place better than his previous Pan Pacs in this event. Trent Steed of Australia the fastest qualifier was fourth in 4:19.65.
Men’s 100m Breaststroke Final
Michael Norment of the US lead at the turn ahead of fastest qualifier Aussie Simon Cowley and South African Brett Petersen out in lane eight. Cowley came through strongly to win in 1:02.06 well outside the PB he set in his semi-final of 1:01.60. “I’m a little disappointed with the time … but I was happy to get on the board first,” he said. Teammate Regan Harrison, who is better over 200m, made up good ground to finish second and record a PB of 1:02.26 ahead of Morgan Knabe of Canada (1:02.37). Kurt Grote (1:02.79) was never in the race finishing in 6th place just behind a tiring Michael Norment (1:02.70).
Men’s 100m Backstroke Semi-finals
American Lenny Krayzelburg cruised to an easy win in the semi-finals to qualify first in a time of 54.07 just outside his PB set at the US National two weeks ago. He is well within reach of the seven-year-old world record of 53.86 held by fellow America Jeff Rouse. Aussie Matt Welsh set an Australian record time of 55.42 in qualifying second fastest. Bobby Brewer (US) was third fastest in 55.56 ahead of the two Japanese, Nishikori (55.58) and Konnai (55.70). Mark Versfeld of Canada also qualified in 55.83.
Women’s 100m Backstroke Semi-finals
The two top Japanese women, Mai Nakamura (1:02.07) and Noriko Inada (1:02.27) qualified best for the final ahead of American BJ Bedford (1:02.29), Erin Gammel of Canada (1:02.41) and Aussie Dyana Calub in a personal best by over half a second (1:02.42). Fellow Aussie Giaan Rooney, failed to qualify with a disappointing 1:03.37.
Stephen J. Thomas, former editorial consultant of Australian Swimming and Fitness Magazine, is Swimming World’s Australian correspondent.