By Stephen J Thomas
CANBERRA, Australia, February 29. BROOKE Hanson has a major point to prove in four weeks. This time when she pulls on her suit before competing in her third Olympic Trials she will be determined — so determined — to make the team.
The 25-year-old Hanson (pictured) has just missed selection on the last two Games teams but this time one feels sure the very fit and impressively strong breaststroker will be pushing her younger rival Leisel Jones all the way to Athens.
Tonight Hanson took the 200 breaststroke in a PR 2:27.30 (4th fastest Aussie performer). Next she won the 50 breast, breaking her own national record set at the World Champs in Barcelona by 0.03 of a second clocking 31.08, then finished the evening winning the 200 IM in another PR 2:16.01 (7th fastest Aussie performer) to beat three-time Canadian Olympian Joanne Malar, 2:16.74. Hanson said at the end of a very successful night that she was still in hard work and was looking forward with confidence to the challenge ahead.
At the other end of the spectrum, 27-year-old dual Olympian Sarah Ryan will be looking for her third opportunity to represent her country at the highest level. Ryan has only returned to full-time training last December having pulled out of the team for the World Champs earlier in the year to concentrate on building a career in broadcasting. Many of the doubts about her ability to get back to her best were lifted when she took the 100 free in a very satisfactory 55.61 after winning the 50 free in 25.63 yesterday. The prize at the end of the journey is a place on the 400 freestyle relay team probably with the three Queensland teenage speedsters – Jodie Henry, Libby Lenton and Alice Mills.
Petria Thomas swam the 400 free tonight for something different, having decided to skip the 200 fly at this meet. In the absence of the national champ Elka Graham who withdrew before the race, 28-year-old Thomas clocked a PR 4:11.19 (9th fastest Aussie performer) to take the event from Canadian 16-year-old Brittany Reimer (4:12.81). Thomas also took second place in the 100 free in 56.39 (prelim 56.13) and went 26.68, just 0.02 outside her Commonwealth record swimming 50 fly as a lead in a relay event. World champs finalist, Felicity Galvez cruised to a win in the 200 fly in 2:14.74.
In the men’s events there was a standout performance from Olympic 200 fly bronze medalist Justin Norris. The AIS-based 23-year-old, who has been looking in excellent shape under his coach Pierre La Fontaine, went a very fast 1:57.87 in full work to blitz the field in his signature event. Norris also took the 200 IM in 2:04.32.
Olympic gold medalist Todd Pearson took the 100 free in 50.62 touching out relay teammate Michael Klim, 50.63, and one-lap winner Brett Hawke, 50.98 (prelim 50.68). It was another solid performance from Klim given his enforced time out from racing . Klim actually clocked the meet's fastest time in the prelims with 50.51. Klim told a large media scrum that he was feeling very tired after his first weekend of racing in more than two years.
Dorsal specialist Matt Welsh dominated the two-lap race, stroking an impressive 54.85. The 27-year-old holds the Commonwealth record for the 100 back at 53.89 set last April.
Jim Piper clocked a new allcomers record 2:14.34 to win the 200 breaststroke from Olympian Regan Harrison (2:16.21) and Canadian world champs finalist Mike Brown (2:18.49). Piper holds the Commonwealth record 2:10.88 set in March 2002.
Craig Stevens took the 400 free in 3:53.63 from Canadian Brian Johns (3:57.54).
The visiting Canadian team registered two wins tonight with 23-year-old Erin Gammel taking the 100 backstroke in 1:02.84 and Morgan Knabe snatched the 50 breaststroke in 28.93. It might have been three wins had not Olympian Mike Mintenko been DQ’ed for breaking the 15-meter rule as he touched in 24.07 – well under Michael Klim’s meet record of 24.37. AIS stalwart Adam Pine took the race in 24.79.