HACKETT GETS CLOSER TO KIEREN PERKINS’ 1500m WORLD MARK!!; JENNY THOMPSON TAKES HOME SIX GOLD MEDALS
By Stephen J. Thomas
It got down to the final event to decide if the United States or Australia would win the Championships based on the international points system. The US men’s 400m medley relay prevailed over the Aussies in a very close finish to win the meet. The Aussie team was later disqualified for an early change. Both countries won thirteen gold medals each.
There were no world records on the last day of competition but some great swimming. In particular, Grant Hackett recorded the third fastest 1500m freestyle in history to improve his personal best by just over three seconds and moved closer to the world mark held by the great Kieren Perkins. Jenny Thompson crowned a great meet with two more gold medals to bring her tally to six and a record 25 gold from six Pan Pacific Championships.
Women’s 50m Freestyle Final
Jenny Thompson (USA), starting as red-hot favorite, led all the way to record 25.51 her fifth gold of the meet. An excellent performance from Aussie Sarah Ryan to take the silver from lane 8, in a personal best 25.95, beating home the other American Liesl Kolbisen by a mere 0.02. Kolbisen had set her personal best time of 25.74 in the semi-finals.
Rebecca Creedy (AUS) 26.13
Laura Nicholls (CAN) 26.23
Charlene Whittstock (RSA) 26.20
Toni Jeffs (NZL) 26.15
Anna Lydall (CAN) 26.58
Men’s 1500m Freestyle Final
The race lost some of its interest with the failure of world record holder Kieren Perkins to make the final. Perkins had been struck down with a stomach virus that had left him weak and three kilos lighter. The man pressing to break Perkins world time, fellow Aussie Grant Hackett had looked comfortable in his heat after also suffering from flu earlier in the meet.
As expected Hackett swam the race on his own, on the way breaking Daniel Kowalski’s meet record for the 800m in 7:50.02. In the final stages of the race Hackett held his stroke perfectly and powered down the last hundred showing no signs of his illness! He touched the wall in 14:45.60, the third fastest all-time 1500m swim and a new championship record. South African Ryk Neethling, who was expected to push Hackett after setting best times in the 200m and 400m, was second in 15:02.40 just under his best time. Neethling indicated he was not happy with his performance as he left the pool.
Hackett said after the race his coach Denis Cotterell had told him to concentrate on stroke technique. “Turning with one hundred to go I thought I would do about 14:50-55, when I saw the time I thought to myself I should have dug a little deeper,” he said. He felt confident he can go under 14:40 by the Australian trials next year!
A big improvement came from American Chris Thompson, who held off young Aussie Craig Stevens to take the bronze, almost ten seconds under his PB coming into this meet. He has jumped to 4th best American over the distance with a time of 15:04.68.
Craig Stevens (AUS) 15:15.68
Masato Hirano (JAP) 15:15.79
Jon Younghouse (USA) 15:30.61
Andrew Hurd (CAN) 15:41.12
Tim Peterson (CAN) 15:42.59
Women’s 400m Medley Relay Final
The American team led narrowly from Japan at the end of the first leg, moving comfortably ahead after Jenny Thompson’s third leg took them under world record pace. Liesl Kolbisen touched the wall over 2.5 seconds ahead of the Australian team with a similar margin to the Japanese in third place. The medal-winning teams were:
United States 4:03.09
Men’s 400m Medley Relay Final
Lenny Krayzelburg got the US team off to a brilliant start failing by only 0.07 to break his newly established world record and giving the US team a break over the Aussies by well over a body length. Kurt Grote maintained the lead over the 100m breaststroke gold-medalist Simon Cowley but the challenge came from Geoff Huegill with a 51.84 butterfly leg. Dod Wales held his own (52.49 split) and Neil Walker hit the water almost one second ahead of Michael Klim. Klim made up most of the ground but Walker touched first to give the American team a new championship record and much needed confidence boost over the Australians. It eventuated that the Australian team was disqualified after Klim had left the block a fraction too early in the changeover. The teams:
United States 3:36.37 NCR
Male Swimmer of the Meet: Ian Thorpe
Female Swimmer of the Meet: Jenny Thompson
Rookie of the Meet: Megan Quann
FINAL MEDAL TALLY
GOLD SILVER BRONZE TOTAL
USA 13 10 12 35
AUSTRALIA 13 13 6 32
CANADA 2 4 5 11
JAPAN 2 3 4 9
SOUTH AFRICA 3 1 4 8
COSTA RICA 1 1
Stephen J. Thomas, former editorial consultant of Australian Swimming and Fitness Magazine, is Swimming World’s Australian correspondent.