By Stephen J. Thomas
SYDNEY, Australia, March 29. BARCELONA silver medalist Alice Mills trimmed 0.28 off her 200m IM Commonwealth and Aussie record to touch in 2:12.47 in one of several semifinal highlights today.
Mills went 28.06 for the fly leg – 0.75 under Wu Yanyan's ’97 world record split so look to expect some further improvement tomorrow night, although she will also contest the 100 free semifinals.
The evening saw another great performance from Brooke Hanson who was second fastest qualifier in a PR 2:15.33, taking almost seven-tenths of a second off her previous best, despite having won the 100 breaststroke less than half an hour earlier. Only ninth among the 17 semifinalists at the 100 meter turn, Hanson outclassed the field on the breaststroke leg, then hung on during the freestyle leg.
Lara Carroll, the silver medalist in the 400IM was third best with a 2:15.66.
Women’s 200 Freestyle:
Petria Thomas made it obvious she is after an individual swim in this event in Athens when she carved more than one and a half seconds off her previous best to touch in 1:58.20 — the world's fastest time this year. Olympic gold medalist Susie O’Neill is the only Australian to have swum faster – when she clocked 1:57.47 at the Olympic Trials at this pool in 2000. It sets up the possibility for Thomas to attempt to win the 200 fly and free double, something O’Neill just failed to achieve in Sydney, missing the fly behind Misty Hyman.
Elka Graham, the Australian national champ for the past three years clocked 1:59.01, Linda MacKenzie the surprise 400 free champ, set a new PR by more than one second when she touched in 1:59.78. Sprint star Libby Lenton swam a huge PR to also go under the 2-minute mark (1:59.94). In the heats this morning, Barcelona 100 free silver medalist Jodie Henry clocked 1:59.23 but decide to scratch to avoid a clash with her pet event tomorrow night. Five Aussie women under 2-minutes and Alice Mills who skipped the race to concentrate on the 200IM would certainly be in the frame for a place on the 800 relay.
Men’s 200 Butterfly:
Justin Norris, the Olympic bronze medalist swam an ‘effortless’ 1:57.01 – only one other Aussie has swam faster – to qualify for the final tomorrow night well ahead of 400 IM silver medalist, 18-year-old Travis Nederpelt at 1:58.87 and Andrew Richards 1:59.05.