By Stephen J. Thomas
SYDNEY,, Australia, JANUARY 18. QUEENSLANDER Ashley Callus continued on his winning way down South of the border, despite the absence of Ian Thorpe, with another strong performance when he easily won the men’s 19 & over 50 freestyle in a swift 22.64 from Jonathon Newton 23.31 on day six of the NSW Age and Open Championships.
Middle-distance freestyler Elka Graham clocked 55.69 to come within just 0.03 of a second of her PR tonight with an all-the-way win in the Open 100 freestyle.
Comebacker Sarah Ryan made further progress towards a place on her third Olympic team taking the silver in 56.06. The 26-year-old Ryan, who quit her job in commercial radio at the end of last year to give her full attention to making the team, also took out the women’s 19 & over 50 free earlier in the evening in 26.37 (Prelim 26.34).
Outstanding talent, 16-year-old Melissa Mitchell lowered her State age record set last night when she took third in 56.15. Mitchell also clocked a new State age record of 26.26 in the prelims of the girls 16 years 50 free.
Andrew Burns improved on his time last night when he clocked a very satisfactory 2:01.51 to take out the Open 200 backstroke from Victorian Patrick Murphy 2:02.13.
Justin Norris, 23, clocked 2:04.97 to dominate the Open 200 IM final from 16-year-old Japanese Taijiro Yamazaki (2:08.30). The AIS-based Norris has already won the 400 IM and 200 fly together with third place in the 200 breaststroke this meet. His coach, Pierre La Fontaine, said the time clocked tonight was faster than Norris had swum at this stage in his preparation leading into the 2000 Olympics.
Victorian Jason Cohen won the men’s 19 & over 100 butterfly in 53.97, edging out 28-year-old Atlanta silver medalist Scott Miller (54.00) and the irrepressible Justin Norris (54.31). Miller’s best still stands at 52.53 set at the Atlanta final. At the other end of the experience spectrum, dynamic 16-year-old, Andrew Lauterstein went a 54.63 to win his age final. They will meet in the Open final tomorrow.
Best results out of the Age titles for the girl’s 200 backstroke were Danish visitor Louise Ornstedt (2:15.07), Japan’s Eri Tabei (2:15.13) and AIS-based Karian Leane (2:16.74). Another to watch in the Open final tomorrow should be 14-year-old Stephanie Williams who won her age group in 2:17.58. Williams went 2:14.46 in Japan last year as a 13-year-old.
Victorian Sarah Kasoulis, 19, won the Open 200 breaststroke in 2:31.92 from Japanese 14-year-old Chika Hashimoto (2:33.67).
Craig Stevens had an easy win in the Open 1500 freestyle clocking 15:34.39 to beat open water swimmer Grant Cleland (15:41.54).