By Stephen J. Thomas
Sydney, Australia, February 9. THE weekend competition in Australia centred on long course sprint meets (50m) held in Brisbane and Melbourne. All the local swimmers are still in hard work with less than eight weeks before the Olympic Trials. However, visiting Englishman Darren Mew went 27.93 in his semi-final of the 50 breaststroke to easily break Kiwi Paul Kent’s nine-year-old Aussie All-Comers record of 28.23 but well short of the Commonwealth record of 27.56 held by his countryman James Gibson. Aussie record-holder Brenton Rickard clocked 28.76 to win in Melbourne.
The Barcelona silver medalist in the 50 free, Alice Mills, clocked a swift 25.37 to convincingly beat her teammate and bronze medalist Libby Lenton, 26.07, in Brisbane. Mills who also took silver in the 200IM at the World Champs in Barcelona also took the fly in 27.98. Down south in Melbourne, Lori Munz put in an encouraging performance to win the fly in 27.94. Munz suffered serious injuries leading into the Sydney Olympics and did not qualify for the team and has worked hard to be in a position to have another shot four years later.
Aspiring backstroker Marieke Guehrer won the dorsal sprint in Brisbane in 30.29 from the ever-present Alice Mills (30.69). Brooke Hanson clocked 30.60 to take the event in Melbourne.
Sydney Olympian Tarnee White showed she is coming back to form at the right time with a PR 31.52 to take the breaststroke (3rd fastest Aussie performer). Leisel Jones skipped the meet. Barcelona silver medalist and Aussie record-holder Brooke Hanson went 31.83 to win again down south.
In the other men’s events, Barcelona freestyle finalist Brett Hawke clocked 23.16 to post the best performance while Sydney visitor Jono Newton easily won the Queensland event in 23.18 from local Jeff English 23.83. Olympic gold medalist Ashley Callus was fourth in 24.07.
Not surprisingly the fly and dorsal events in Melbourne went to Matt Welsh, the Barcelona gold and silver medalist in 24.66 and 26.20 respectively. Another visiting Brit Matthew Clay won the fly in Brisbane clocking 25.33 from Callus in 25.43. Geoff Huegill, the former world-record holder, skipped the meet.