By Beinda Dennett and Ian Hanson
MELBOURNE, June 16. AUSSIE swim stars Ian Thorpe, Clementine Stoney and Jim Piper all continued their great swimming from the Mare Nostrum European tour with victories on the first day of finals at the Telstra Grand Prix in Melbourne.
Less than 24 hours after flying in from Monte Carlo, Thorpe and Piper won the 400m freestyle and 200m breaststroke respectively while Stoney, who left the tour after Rome, clocked a personal best time in winning the 200m backstroke.
In the highlight of the evening's program, Thorpe defied jet-lag to take the event he has made his own, the 400m freestyle, in 3:44.85 ahead of Grant Hackett (3.46.11). Thorpe's former training partner, Craig Stevens was third in 3:52.94.
Thorpe chalked up wins in Canet, Rome and Monte Carlo over 200 and 400m freestyle to confirm his status as the world's number one middle-distance swimmer.
Piper, the newly crowned Australian record-holder, was yet another Australian swimmer who was also able to put his jet-lag to one side to record an impressive win in the 200m breaststroke. His time of 2:14.38 left Australia's world championship representatives Simon Cowley (2:15.38) and Regan Harrison (2:16.99) in his wake. Piper remained unbeaten in the 200m breaststroke on the Mare Nostrum, lowering the Australian record to 2:14.40 in Canet.
Stoney even surprised herself by winning the 200m backstroke in a personal best time of 2:11.89 to beat home Kelly Tucker (2:15.44) and Giaan Rooney (2:16.92). She too was one of the stars of the women's team in Europe, winning two gold medals on the tour.
In other events, Sarah Ryan surprised herself in setting a new Victorian All-comers record in the 100m freestyle final to win in a time of 55.90 from Elka Graham 56.46 and Lori Munz 57.12.
Victorian Brooke Hanson atoned for the disappointment of falling ill during the first Grand Prix meet to take the 50m breaststroke final from Olympic silver medalist Leisel Jones (32.95) and Olympic finalist Tarnee White (32.73).
Justin Norris took out the 400m individual medley from Australian Institute of Sport teammate, Grant McGregor who finished just behind in 4:22.83 despite having been in the country for less than 48 hours. Olympian Robe Van der Zant who has also just returned from the Mare Nostrum tour of Europe, was third in 4:28.27.
Ten minutes later, the Olympic bronze medalist in the 200m butterfly backed up from his win in the 400IM to swim over the top of Michael Klim, to continue his dominance of this event, taking it out in 1:57.98. Klim who has indicated he will concentrate on the butterfly events was second in 1:59.06 with Greg Shaw taking third place in 2:02.91.
Petria Thomas was happy with her time of 27.10 to take out the 50m butterfly final from fellow world championship team members, Julia Ham (27.97), and Nicole Hunter (28.90).
Local boy Matt Welsh gave his home crowd plenty to cheer about in winning the 50m backstroke in the fast time of 25.99 to out-touch Josh Watson (26.14), reversing the positions from the National Championships earlier this year. Fellow world championship team member Ray Hass was third in 26.79.
Lori Munz was happy with her time of 2:17.01 which was good enough to win the 200m individual medley from Jennifer Reilly (2:18.58) and Brooke Hanson (2:20.77).
Sarah Ryan claimed her second win of the evening taking out the 50m freestyle in 26.27 out-touching Sophie Edington (26.44) and Jodie Henry (26.75).
Amanda Pascoe, staged a great battle with Hayley Lewis, 11 year her senior, over the 1500m freestyle. The gruelling race came down to a sprint finish with just 0.03 second separating them, Pascoe was first in 16:26.57 with Hayley Lewis second in 16:26.60. In third place was Kristy Ward in 16:49.08.
TELSTRA SWIMMING GRAND PRIX
Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre
DAY ONE FINALS: June 16
50 meter pool
400m individual medley
1. J Norris (BHP Hunter, NSW) 4:22.16
2. G McGregor (Brothers, Qld) 4:22.83
3. R Van Der Zant (Yeronga Park, Qld) 4:28.27
1. M Welsh (Melbourne Vicentre, Vic) 25.99
2. J Watson (Kingscliff, NSW) 26.14
3. R Hass (Firbank Aquastars, Vic) 26.79
1. J Norris (BHP Hunter, NSW) 1:57.98
2. M Klim (Southern Bay, Vic) 1:59.06
3. G Shaw (Chandler, Qld) 2:02.47
1. I Thorpe (SLC Aquadot, NSW) 3:44.85
2. G Hackett (Miami Qld) 3:46.11
3. C Stevens (SLC Aquadot, NSW) 3:52.94
1. J Piper (Campbelltown, NSW) 2:14.38
2. S Cowley (SLC Aquadot, NSW) 2:15.38
3. R Harrison (Yeronga Park, Qld) 2:16.99
1. S Ryan (Bayside Aquatics, SA) 55.90
2. E Graham (Manly, NSW) 56.46
3. L Munz (Carey Aquatic, NSW) 57.12
1. B Hanson (Nunawading, Vic) 32.23
2. T White (Redcliffe Leagues, Lawnton, Qld) 32.73
3. L Jones (Redcliffe Leagues Lawnton, Qld) 32.95
1. P Thomas (Ginninderra, NSW) 27.10
2. J Ham (Chandler, Qld) 27.97
3. N Hunter (Tattersall's Hobart Aquatic, Tas) 28.90
200m individual medley
1. L Munz (Carey Aquatic, Vic) 2:17.01
2. J Reilly (Victoria Park, Vic) 2:18.58
3. B Hanson (Nunawading, Vic) 2:20.77
1. S Ryan (Bayside Aquatics, SA) 26.27
2. S Edington (Loxton SA) 26.44
3. J Henry (Chandler, Qld) 26.75
1. A Pascoe (Campbelltown, NSW) 16:26.57
2. H Lewis (Commercial, Qld) 16:26.60
3. K Ward (St Peters Western, Qld) 16:49.08
1. C Stoney (Albury, NSW) 2:11.89
2. K Tucker (Kincumber Pac. Dolphins , NSW) 2:15.44
3. G Rooney (Miami Qld) 2:16.92