By Stephen J. Thomas
(with Phillip Whitten)
Hobart, Australia – Australian Matt Welsh broke the first world record of the century by the narrowest of margins at the second night of the FINA World Cup VI. Welsh took the 50m backstroke in 24.11 seconds regaining the record he had lost to US sprinter Neil Walker in November last year.
Welsh had tied the world record of 24.13 in September at the Australian Short Course Championships only to have Walker take the record down by one-hundreth of a second.
The Aussie dorsal ace took the lead right at the start and turned at 11.80 seconds. “That really set it up for me,” Welsh explained. “I knew when I came out of that turn that I had the race. It was just a matter of how fast I could go.”
In winning tonight Welsh inflicted his second defeat of the meet over triple long course world recond-holder Lenny Krayzelberg, having beaten him over 100m last night. Krayzelburg was second in 24.72 with Aussie Josh Watson third in 24.94.
The night, however, was not lost to Krayzelburg. He lined up for the 200m backstroke later in the evening against Aussies Welsh and Josh Watson. Starting very strongly, he was under his own world record pace at the half way mark but tired slightly to finish in 1:52.77 just 0.3 short of his record. His time was the fourth fastest all-time over the short course distance. He said after the race that the hard training he had been doing recently suited the 200 meters, and being beaten by Welsh had given him extra motivation to swim a fast time. Lenny said he was a good chance to break his world record in the 200m at the World Cup in Sydney next week. Josh Watson (1:55.58) and Matt Welsh (1:57.28) took second and third, well behind Krayzelburg.
Sabir Muhammad was the only other American male to win in the Tasmanian capital. The Stanford grad took the 50 free in 22.30 and also finished second in the 100 fly (53.23). World record-holder Michael Klim won that event in a strong 51.74. Ian Thorpe provided Australia with a third men’s victory when he won the 200 free in a lackadaisical 1:47.03.
Finland’s Jani Sievinen won the 200m IM in 1: 59.24, again defeating Canada’s Curtis Myden. The win gave the reborn Flying Finn a sweep of the three medley events.
Canada’s Morgan Knabe took the 100 breast in 1:00.73 while Japan’s Masato Hirano cruised to a strong win in the 1500 (14:55.95).
Chinese swimmers won four women’s events. Han Xue won the 100 IM (1:02.34) ahead of Australia’s Lori Munz, then touched in a dead heat with world record-holder Penny Heyns in the 50 breast (31.26). Newcomer Zhang Yan walked off with the 400m free (4:07.15) while Ruan Yi won the 50 fly (26.90).
Aussie women won three events. Comebacking Rebecca Brown struck gold in the 200 breast (2:25.47), Munz grabbed the 100 free (55.18) and Dyana Calub went under a minute to win the 100 back (59.93).
American Kristine Quance-Julian was a double winner. The Trojan Swim Club star won both the 400 IM (4:37.21) and the 200 fly (2:10.23). In the medley, Quance-Julian had no problem in disposing off Canada’s Joanne Malar, last year’s top-ranked swimmer in the event.