Aussie Nationals: Huegill Edges Klim in 100 Fly

By Belinda Dennett

HOBART, Tasmania, Australia. March 28. GEOFF
Huegill, swimming out in lane two after foxing in his semi-final, stopped the clock at 52.23 to just out-touch Michael Klim by 0.11 seconds to defend his national 100m butterfly crown on night five of the Telstra Australian Swimming Championships in Hobart tonight.

Huegill said in his poolside interview after the race. "I went into the final with blinkers on and swam how I like to swim the race. I knew Michael would attack it in the last 50 and I knew I had to try and hold on."

He admitted he had taken a couple of months off training after the Olympics but was happy with his performance, which will put him in the box seat for this year's World Championships in Fukuoka.

"I've been cruising along and came into the meet really relaxed. I didn't put any pressure on myself," he said.

Olympic relay gold medalist, Adam Pine finished third in 53.09. Rounding out the top eight were Burl Reid (53.65), Shane Fielding (54.70), Jason Cohen (54.82), Zane King (54.93), Josh Krogh (55.24).

Klim, the Olympic butterfly silver medalist, will be back in the pool tomorrow night trying to become the first swimmer at these championships to stop "The Thorpedo."

Ian Thorpe, who has already notched world records in the 200 and 800 metres freestyle at this meet, is the fastest qualifier for the 100m final – clocking a personal best time of 49.21 – the third fastest time by an Australian – only bettered by Michael Klim (48.18) and Chris Fydler (48.85).

It remains to be seen just how close he can get to Klim's National mark of 48.18 and Pieter Van den Hoogenband's world record of 47.84.

If Thorpe wins gold he will become the first Australian since John Konrads in 1961 to win the 100, 200, 400 and 800 metres freestyle National titles.

The tireless Petria Thomas, in a full length Speedo Fastskin bodysuit, added the 50m butterfly title to the 200m butterfly gold and 100m freestyle silver medals she has already won at these Championships, winning the final in 27.06.

Thomas admitted the Fastskin suit was a plus after her shoulder operations threatened to end her career.

She said: "I have very flexible shoulders and it helps me during a race keep my shoulders together."

Thomas put her good form at this meet down to being relaxed and enjoying her swimming more than ever.

Queensland's Julia Ham finished second in a personal best time of 27.46 ahead of fellow Queenslander, Nicole Irving in 27.64. Completing the final were Jordana Webb (27.64), Sarah Ryan (27.87), Marieke Guehrer (27.95), Felicity Galvez (28.20) and Kate Hanna (28.48).

Regan Harrison, a member of Australia's silver medal winning 4 x 200m medley relay, took the 200m breaststroke gold medal in the one of the closest contested finals of these Championships.

Harrison's time of 2:13.14 was the fastest time ever set to win an Australian Championship and even third placed Jim Piper's time would have won the title in any other year.

The silver medal winner, Simon Cowley was just 0.09 second behind in 2:13.23 with Jim Piper of Campbelltown a further 0.09 second behind in 2:13.32.

Rounding out the top eight were Jarrad Church (2:19.64), Robert McDonald (2:19.93), Trent Steed (2:20.65), Mark Riley (2:22.82) and Ben Tuckerman (2:23.18).

Olympian, Clementine Stoney continued her good form to win her first national title in the 200m backstroke with a time of 2:12.73. In second place was 16 year-old Kelly Tucker in 2:14.40 from another 16 year old in Melissa Morgan (2:16.24)

"I'm pretty proud of the preparation I've had since the Olympics. I went back into training pretty easily," Stoney said after her race.

Completing the top eight were: Jennifer Reilly (2:16.92), Chloe Bennett (2:17.17), Tamara Leane (2:17.89), Alissa Searston (2:18.71) and Anna Campbell (2:19.81)

Grant McGregor atoned for the disappointment of missing Olympic selection by taking out the 200m individual medley final with a personal best and third fastest time by an Australian, in 2:01.54.

He defeated his Australian Institute of Sport team mate, Justin Norris who was not far behind in 2:01.59. Olympian Rob Van der Zant was third in 2:02.79.

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