By Stephen J. Thomas
SYDNEY, Australia, March 28.. STRIVING for her first Olympic team, 26-year-old Brooke Hanson clocked a sizzling 1:07.34 in the heats this morning to put the world record-holder on notice that she was mighty keen on her crown. Hanson’s heat swim of 1:07.34 would have given her the silver medal in this pool at the Sydney Olympics as well as the World Champs in Barcelona, on both occasions faster than Leisel Jones who won the silver medalist at both events.
Jones clocked a not too shabby 1:08.09 in her heat so expectations were high for tonight’s semi-finals. The crowd was not disappointed. In the first semi, Jones clocked 1:07.26 ahead of Jade Edmistone PR 1:08.96 and then in the second semi, Hanson went slightly slower than the morning to clock 1:07.50 ahead of 2000 Olympic finalist in this event Tarnee White 1:09.25.
Men’s 200 Freestyle:
Ian Thorpe had made it clear that it was going to be business as usual when he got on the blocks for his 200 freestyle heat this morning. The Thorpedo’s heat swim was notable for two things: the loud cheer he received from the crowd for successfully negotiating the start – perhaps a very Australian way of dealing with sporting misfortune – and his time of 1:49.30, the only swimmer under 1:50.
In the semi-final, Thorpe and Grant Hackett were drawn together. Thorpe kept his friend and rival at bay 1:48.33 to 1:48.55. Expect the action tomorrow night where the entire field had to swim under 1:50 to make the final.
Men’s 100 Backstroke:
Matt Welsh will be aiming for his fifth consecutive title in the final – the Aussie record-holder clocked 55.36 to be fastest qualifier ahead of exciting prospect, 16-year-old Andrew Lauterstein who clocked a PR 55.75 and 2000 Olympic finalist Josh Watson (55.83).
Women’s 100 Backstroke:
Giaan Rooney was clearly not disadvantaged by having won the 50 backstroke just shortly before this semifinal. The 21-year-old Rooney swam her fast time outside of her relay split in Barcelona to lead the qualifiers in 1:01.99 from the fast improving Sophie Edington (PR 1:02.32) and Belinda Neville (1:02.91). Rooney trains under Ian Pope in Melbourne who also coaches dorsal specialists Matt Welsh and Ray Hass.