By Craig Lord
BERLIN, January 21. ROLAND Schoeman equalled Ian Crocker's world short-course record of 46.25 seconds over 100 metres freestyle here in Berlin today.
Blasting off his blocks, the Olympic silver medal winner from South Africa looked like a man on a mission as he raced half a body length clear by the first turn. By the 50m mark, and a 21.90sec split, the race was his alone, with American Jason Lezak the closest contender on 22.35.
Schoeman, surfing under the waves out of every turn and emerging long
into his stroke, was asked whether he wished he could have broken the record. "Yes, of course," he answered. "But it was good to equal it too…maybe next time."
Schoeman said he had had a vision that he would swim 46.17 seconds.
"I wanted it to be faster than I did because I knew I was capable
of something a bit special after swimming so well in Stockholm."
But the 46.25 has helped to motivate him in the way that his success in Athens did. "I just took a couple of weeks break after the Games before getting back in to hard work. I was really motivated and took the chance to feed off that. I've been training on my own in South Africa since mid-November. Some days I like to train alone, some not. But now I'm looking forward to getting back to Arizona. I love it there."
Earlier in the day, Schoeman miscalculated in his heat of the 100 IM,
for which he broke the world record earlier this week in Stockholm. His error deprived him and Berlin of the much-awaited showdown with Germany's Thomas Rupprath, the previous record holder.
"It was a shame," said Schoeman, "but people seem to like riding on my wave on the last 50 meters and that dragged me back in the heats."
With Schoeman out of the medley final, it was left to his teammate,
Ryk Neethling, to uphold South African honour in a race with world record holder Rupprath.
Neethling (pictured) proved worthy, taking the victory and world record in 52.11 seconds, decisively ahead of Rupprath, on 52.99.
"I knew I could break the world record," said Neethling. "If Roland had
qualified, I think I'd have gone even faster. We train together, we push
each other on and we help each other out."
Rupprath was a little shocked by the whole experience: "Last Tuesday
I was annoyed to lose my world record to Schoeman. But I'm suprised that
Neethling was able to swim so fast. It's almost no fun anymore."
Earlier, it hadn't been much fun in the 100m backstroke either. He raced
inside world record pace, by 0.06 seconds, but by the end had faded off the pace and had to share victory after being caught by the only man in the race who could match him on turns, Austria's Markus Rogan. Both men clocked 51.16, to American Randall Bal's 51.38.
Rupprath said: "After the first 50 I lost my stamina. Given the training
phase I'm in, the time's not that bad. But Markus has failed yet again to
get ahead of me."
Rogan chipped in: "I could have been a bit faster. Perhaps I'll be the one
to get ahead of Thomas next time."
Australia's Jim Piper caused an upset in the 200 metres breaststroke by
defeating Ed Moses, the world record holder from the US, on his way to
shattering the Commonwealth record in 2:04.03. Piper swam an intelligent race, playing cat to Moses as mouse. After sitting on the American's shoulder from start to finish, Piper made his move with 35 metres to go and drew level going into the last turn. Moses faded a touch as Piper held on to take the win by 0.54 seconds. Russian newcomer Grigory Falko was a distant third in 2:07.91.
Japan's 20-year-old rising star Hidemasa Sano took the 400 IM in 4:07.18 – just 0.11 seconds short of the National record he set in Stockholm earlier in the week with Aussie Adam Lucas slashing 1.45 seconds off his previous best to take the silver in 4:08.74 – lifting him to second all-time Aussie performer behind former world record-holder Matt Dunn.
The women's freestyle events continued to throw up good clashes. Solenne
Figues of France, looked supreme in the 200 metres freestyle, winning in
1:55.42 over britain's Melanie Marshall, on 1:56.42, with Yu Yang, of
China, third on 1:56.61, and Potec fourth on 1:56.73. Yu later won the
200m medley in 2:10.82, while Figues and Potec took to the water again in
the 800 metres freestyle.
Victory went to Erika Villaecija of Spain on 8:18.13, ahead of Lotte Friis,
of Denmark, on 8:23.16, and Potec on 8:23.21. Figues was back in eighth on
The 200m backstroke produced a great finish, the touch going to Hanae Ito
of Japan in 2:06.12, with Antje Buschschulte of Germany second on 2:06.83
and Aya Terakawa of Japan third on 2:06.85. Back in eighth was Elizabeth
Simmonds of Britain, who celebrated her 14th birthday with a best time of
2:09.89. She was the youngest in the field by five years.
Martina Moravcova raced inside world record pace at the half-way mark of
the 100 metres butterfly but fell shy at the end, to win in 57.15sec. Apart
from herself, only three other women — Coughlin, Thompson and Thomas — have ever gone faster. Now equal 13th best ever, level with Inge de Bruijn's best ever short-course effort in 1998, before she transformed herself into a world beater, is Japan's Ayako Doi, second in Berlin on 57.93.
Moravcova said: "That was best so far on this year's cup. I've made so many
mistakes today and I'm not happy at all. It began with the start and
continued with the turns. I'm quite an experienced swimmer but technique is
so important on butterfly and every little mistake will be punished."
Yuri Prilukov, of Russia, is clearly missing the company of better men. The
likes of Thorpe, Hackett and so forth. After winning the 400m freestyle in
Berlin in 3:43.17, just 0.13 ahead of Paul Biedermann, the Russian said: "I was sure to win today. In the past five world cups I always win the 400 and I'll try to continue to do so."
Oleg Lisogor, of Ukraine, continued to dominate the 50-metre breaststroke
sprint, winning in 26.57 seconds, well up on American Ed Moses, second on 26.82.
Lisogor said: "I'm feeling much better than I did at the end of last year.
I came here to tests my speed but my main focus is on April and the Ukraine
Trials for the world championships – wherever they may be!"
The standard of women's breaststroke on the world cup has fallen well shy
of best quality. However, Simone Weiler, of Germany, took the 100 metres in
1:07.66sec and declared herself pleased with the result given that she had
just returned with many of her national teammates from a training camp in
Gran Canaria. "This was a good test of where I am in training," she said.
Ilona Hlavackova, of the Czech Republic, took the 50 metres backstroke in
27.55, ahead of Germany's Antje Buschschulte, on 27.89. The Czech champion
was disappointed in her time but said it was understandable that she was
not at her peak: "After the European short-course championships in Vienna I
took a break and went skiing in Innsbruck. I started to train again this
1 R Schoeman (RSA) 46.25 (equal world record)
2 J Lezak (US) 47.21
3 J Schreiber (Ger) 47.38
1 Y Prilukov (Rus) 3:43.17
2 P Biedermann (Ger) 3:43.30
3 D Coman (Rom) 3:46.11
1= T Rupprath (Ger) 51.16
1= M Rogan (Aut) 51.16
3 R Bal (US) 51.38.
1 O Lisogor (Ukraine) 26.57
2 E Moses (US) 26.82
3 E Tahirovic (Slov) 27.29
1 J Piper (Aus) 2:04.03 (Commonwealth record)
2 Ed Moses (US) 2:04.57
3 G Falko (Rus) 2:07.91
1 R Schoeman (RSA) 22.92
2 R Takayasu (Japan) 23.17
3 R Barnier (Fra) 23.45
1 N Skvortsov (Rus) 1:53.70
2 T Matsuda (Japan) 1:53.80
3 D Jeong (Korea) 1:56.00
1 R Neethling (RSA) 52.11 (world record)
2 T Rupprath (Ger) 52.99
3 C Galenda (Ita) 54.62
1 H Sano (Jap) 4:07.18
2 A Lucas (Aus)4:08.74
3 J Miki (Jap) 4:13.51
1 T Alshammar (Swe) 24.03 (world cup record)
2 A Sheppard (GBR) 24.36
3 F Nadarajah (Aut) 25.01
200m freestyle: 1 S Figues (Fra) 1:55.42
2 M Marshall (GBR) 1:56.42
3 Y Yang (China) 1:56.61
1 E Villaecija (Esp) 8:18.13 NR
2 L Friis (Den) 8:23.16
3 C Potec (Rom) 8:23.21
1 Ilona Hlavackova (Cze) 27.55
2 A Buschschulte (Ger) 27.89
3 S Khakhlova (Blr) 28.30
1 H Ito (Japan) 2:06.12
2 A Buschschulte (Ger) 2:06.83
3 A Terakawa (Japan) 2:06.85
100m breaststroke: 1 S Weiler (Ger)1:07.66
2 E Bogomazova (Rus) 1:07.80
3 A Le Paranthoen (Fra) 1:08.04
1 M Moravcova (Svk) 57.15
2 A Doi (Japan) 57.93 NR
3 R Komisarz (US) 58.23
1 Yang 2;10.82
2 T Rohmann (Ger)2:11.44
3 A Urbanczyk (Pol) 2:12.11