By Stephen J. Thomas
BRISBANE, Australia. September 29. ANDREW Richards lowered the Aussie record for the 200m butterfly, held by Olympic bronze medalist Justin Norris, by 0.22 of a second when he splashed an impressive 1:53.85. Richards, who also won the 100m, moved to 13th all-time performer in this event. Australian Institute of Sport teammate Josh Krogh was also under WC qualifying with a 1:55.33.
Mark Riley broke the 50m breaststroke national record by 0.09 of a second set yesterday by Brenton Rickard in the semifinals, when he clocked 27.00 – 9th fastest all-time performer. Unfortunately for Rickard he finished behind Riley and was DQ’ed for a false start.
Libby Lenton, easily the star performer of the meet, blasted a PR 57.32 to take the 100m butterfly, not far adrift of Olympic gold medalist Petria Thomas’ Aussie record. It moved the 19-year-old to 6th all-time performer. Olympic finalist Jessica Schipper also qualified in a PR 58.05.
Shortly after the fly, Lenton was back in the water for a win in the 50m freestyle with a 24.25-second performance – just outside her NR, 24.19. Lenton took bronze in this event behind Inky de Bruijn in Athens while the other Aussie Olympic finalist Michelle Engelsman was next in 24.90, just outside the WC qualifying time.
Dual Olympian Matt Welsh took out an amazing eighteenth consecutive short course title in backstroke when he won the 200m final comfortably in a quality 1:53.25 from Ethan Rolff in a PR 1:54.41.
In the absence of Olympic reps Leisel Jones and Brooke Hanson, Victorian Sarah Katsoulis dominated the 200m breaststroke with an impressive 2:22.43 – 15th all-time performer – and a place on the World Champs team.
In a remarkable coincidence that is unlikely to be repeated in swimming, Tayliah Zimmer and Sophie Edington — both from the Kingscliffe Club in Northern New South Wales — tonight tied for first in the 50m backstroke clocking an impressive 27.77 (second all-time Aussie performers). Earlier in the meet, the clubmates tied for first in the 100m final in 59.38 (again the 2nd fastest all-time Aussie performers).
Olympic 4x200m relay finalist Shayne Reese, took the 200m freestyle final from lane eight in 1:57.70 ahead of Athens teammate Linda Mackenzie and fastest qualifier Lara Davenport. Reese was outside the qualifying time set but will make the WC team on the basis of her second placing behind Lenton in the 100m event.
One of the finds of the meet, 18-year-old Leith Brodie added the 100m individual medley title to the 200m distance, smashing his PR to clock 54.54 – 2nd all-time Aussie performer – just edging out Josh Taylor in 54.56, making him the 3rd all-time Aussie, and Adam Lucas in a PR 54.98.
Casey Flouch took out a closely fought 100m freestyle in 48.63, touching out fellow Queenslander Andrew Mewing by just 0.01 of a second. It was the 22-year-old’s first national title but was outside the world championships qualifying time of 47.96. Cameron Prosser took third in a PR 48.76 just edging out 19-year-old Olympian Eamon Sullivan, who finished in a PR 48.78.
Andrew Thompson also won his first national title with an easy win in the 1500m freestyle in 15:03.34, but well outside the world championships qualifying time.
Sixteen-year-old Ephraim Hannant from the Miami club – the breeding ground of Aussie distance swimmers – easily won the morning heats in 15:07.69 to take the silver medal. His coach Denis Cotterell told SwimInfo he was disappointed the young swimmer did not get a swim in the evening heat but he had yet to post a short course time over the distance. Cotterell, coach of distance greats Grant Hackett and Dan Kowalski, said he felt that, "once we get his (Hannant's) stroke right he will be a much improved swimmer". Not a bad compliment at this stage of his career from the hard to please coach.