By Stephen J. Thomas
BRISBANE, Australia. September 25. JUST under half of the team that represented Australia at the Athens Olympics have backed up for the Australian Short Course Championships at the Chandler Aquatic Center in Brisbane, but it has been two swimmers who did not compete at the big meet under the Aegean sun that have shined tonight.
First it was Jade Edmistone with her world record-equaling swim in the 50m breaststroke, then fellow Queenslander Brenton Rickard lowered his own Aussie record in a semifinal of the 100m breaststroke, clocking 58.53 to slash almost half-a-second off his old mark.
However, it was 19-year-old Nicholas Sprenger the rookie member of the silver medal-winning Aussie 800 freestyle relay team from Athens who took full advantage of the absence of his more illustrious teammates Thorpe, Hackett and Klim to record a PR 1:44.56 in winning the 200 freestyle final. Interestingly, his time tonight moved him to fourth all-time Aussie performer behind those three same teammates. Thorpe holds the world record at 1:41.10 – swum in Berlin way back in February 2000. In second place was fellow Queenslander Andrew Mewing in a PR 1:45.08 – both were under the qualifying time set for the FINA World SC Championships and will be in line for positions on the team for Indianapolis next month.
In other finals, Olympic 100m butterfly finalist Jessicah Schipper had an impressive win in the 200m butterfly in a PR 2:07.58 ahead of Olympic 200m finalist Felicity Galvez (2:07.87).
Promising 17-year-old Olympic finalist, West Aussie Lara Carroll slashed more than four seconds off her previous best to easily win the 400m individual medley in 4:35.89 (3rd fastest all-time Aussie performer).
In the absence of the national record-holder Giaan Rooney in the 100m backstroke, three swimmers went under one minute to qualify for the final tomorrow – number two-ranked Aussie Sophie Edington clocked 59.46 just 0.02 of a second outside her best, Olympian Marieke Guehrer clocked a PR 59.61 and Belinda Nevell another PR 59.78.