BRISBANE, Australia, March 23. THE Australian Nationals and Commonwealth Games/Pan Pacs selection meet ended with a bang tonight, as Jim Piper set a Commonwealth mark in the 200m breaststroke and Grant Hackett won a record sixth-straight 1500. Not even the great Kieren Perkins achieved that feat.
Piper took the 200m breaststroke in 2:10.88, just 0.72 seconds outside America's Mike Barrowman's 10-year-old world record of 2:10.16. Piper, 20, was under the world record time after 150 metres but was unable to match Barrowman's blistering final 50 in winning gold at the 1992 Barcelona Games.
Barrowman's record, however, is in jeopardy after a decade-long reign, as the USA's Ed Moses has it firmly in his sights.
"I felt good in the warm-up and I knew I could do a personal best," Piper told reporters after beating his previous best mark by 1.52 seconds.
Meanwhile, Olympic and world 1,500 meter freestyle champion Grant Hackett ended the national championships on Saturday by becoming the first man to win six consecutive Australian titles in the event.
Hackett's time of 14:56.30 seconds was 22 slower than his world record of 14:34.56 set at last year's world championships in Fukuoka, Japan, but still saw him beat his rivals by much more than a length of the 50-meter pool at the Chandler Aquatic Centre.
The 21-year-old's nearest challenges came from Craig Stevens (15:27.88) and Daniel Kowalski (15:32.74).
"It was sort of difficult out there by myself trying to hold the pace but a sub 15-minute swim is always nice," Hackett said.
"It is a very draining event and I will be listening to my body. The last thing I want is to get sick at this stage of the year."
Before the race, Hackett had said he was not prepared to push himself because he was leaving for Moscow on Sunday for the world short-course championships.
"It would have seen me get on the plane with my immune system very low," Hackett said of the dangers of making a world record attempt on Saturday.
However, Hackett predicted that he has the potential to drop his 14:34 world mark "another seven or eight seconds" when the conditions are right.
Petria Thomas, the 100m butterfly world champion, won the 200m butterfly final in 2:09.52 despite dislocating a shoulder while coming third in the 50m backstroke final on Friday.
"I never considered not swimming tonight. It's not in my nature," the 26-year-old said.