By Stephen J. Thomas
CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA. April 25. THERE is little doubt that butterfly specialist Petria Thomas has fully recovered from her second major shoulder operation just twelve months ago. The dual '98 World Championships butterfly medalist and Atlanta 200m silver medalist left no doubt she will be a serious medal contender in September with her performance at the ACT Championships yesterday. She swam the third fastest 100m fly in the world in the past year in the heats (58.65), breaking her own Australia and Commonwealth record by 0.32 and went on to lower the mark in the evening final in 58.54. The swim placed her 5th fastest all-time over the distance. She repeated the performance in the 50m fly, slashing the
three-year-old Australian and Commonwealth record by 0.30 to record 27.12.
In the final she mistimed her last stroke but still improved on her morning effort, clocking 27.05. Thomas, who is yet to begin her taper, said she was
looking forward to the Olympic Trials in three weeks. She also found the new Speedo Fastskin suit to her liking as it helped to hold her troublesome shoulders in position.
Alex Popov, the Russian dual-double Olympic champion over the 50m and 100m freestyle, won the 50m in 22.69, beating Chris Fydler (22.75), after
recording 22.61 in the heats. Popov tied with Fydler in the 100m free, both men clocking 49.87. Popov and his Gennadi Touretski-trained teammates, Michael Klim and Matt Dunne, had only arrived back from a three
week stint of heavy work at high altitude camp in Colarado Springs just two days before the meet.
Bill Kirby showed why he was part of the Australian world record 4x200m freestyle relay team at the Pan Pacs last year when he recorded 1:48.66 in
the 200m freestyle. He defeated both Michael Klim (1:49.75) for the first time and Todd Pearson (1:49.76) to become the sixth fastest Australian all-time. Kirby also set a personal best in a heat of the 200m fly in 1:58.28.
World record-holder Michael Klim took out the 100m fly in an excellent 52.81, from Scott Miller (53.39) and Kirby (53.94).
Grant McGregor, won the 200m IM in a PB of 2:02.02, improving on his 2:02.65 set at the Pan Pacs last year.
Sarah-Jane D'Arcy easily took out the 400m freestyle in 4:12.37, moving past Susie O'Neill as the 10th best Australian over the distance. The 22-year-old Victorian came to notice when she set a campionship record over the short course distance at the Sydney FINA World Cup event in January.
Fast improving eighteen-year-old, Elka Graham, took out the women's 200m in a PB of 2:01.89.