By Stephen J. Thomas
SYDNEY, Australia, April 2. PETRIA Thomas probably swam her last event at a national meet tonight when she lowered her Commonwealth and Aussie record for the second time in two days in the 50 fly. The 28-year-old champion swimmer clocked 26.29 to shave 0.12 of a second from her day-old mark. It was her seventh title in this event, which also gave her the fly treble for the meet.
Thomas had planned to end her career after Athens but has been so encouraged by her performances here that she signed-off tonight with the old chestnut, “never say never.” Thomas posted personal best (and world-class) times in all six of the events she contested here, 100-200-400 freestyle and the 50-100-200 fly. Some effort!
At the other end of the time-line, promising Victorian 16-year-old Danni Miatke became only the second Aussie to go under the 27-second mark with a time of 26.85 in advance of 200-meter Olympic qualifier Felicity Galvez (PR 27.24). Olympic legend Shane Gould, 47, who is almost three times the age of Miatke, clocked 31.61 in her heat.
Men’s 50 freestyle:
Australian record-holder Brett Hawke qualified for his second Olympic team when he edged out main rival Queenslander Ashley Callus by just 0.02 of a second, 22.37 to 22.39. In third place was Sydney’s David Carter 22.67. Michael Klim finished a disappointing 6th in 22.98 well off his PR of 22.31.
Klim indicated after the race that he felt he had not had the work under his belt following almost two years out of the pool to be at his best yet and scratched for the 100 fly final. Klim has qualified for his third Olympics as part of the 400 freestyle relay and swam a 200 free solo time trial at the end of the session tonight in 1:50.30 in order to be considered by selectors for the 800 relay team. Klim won two gold medals as part of both freestyle teams at the Sydney Olympics.
Men’s 100 Butterfly:
Olympic bronze medalist and titleholder Geoff Huegill booked a place on his second Olympic team with an encouraging win in 52.92, his best time in more than twelve months. By his own admission, he lost motivation last year and performed below his potential but his win tonight has confirmed he will be totally focused on his preparation for Athens.
Twenty-eight year-old Adam Pine also made his second Olympic team, but his first individual swim, taking second place in 53.26. Justin Norris, winner of the 200 fly, swam yet another PR in 53.44. Former world record-holder Michael Klim scratched from this race after qualifying in 6th place in a time of 54.31 in order to concentrate on the 50 free final.
Women’s 800 Freestyle:
In an encouraging sign for Australian middle-distance swimming, rising star Linda Mackenzie swam the fastest 800 free at a national championship for ten years clocking 8:32.13 (a PR by over five seconds and 8th all-time Aussie performer). The 20-year-old AIS-based North Queenslander also became the first women since Olympian Anna McVann way back in 1984 to have won the 200-400-800 freestyle at the Nationals (on that occasion McVann set a record winning five freestyle events – from 100 through to 1500).
The win means Mackenzie has now qualified for three individual swims (200-400-800 freestyle). However, for her training partner, 17-year-old Sarah Paton, it took an impressive nine-second improvement on her previous best to power home in second place and also qualify for her first Olympic team in 8:34.70. Both swimmers are trained by AIS head coach Pierre Lafontaine. Third place went to Briody Murphy in 8:37.07, a time that would have won last year’s event.
Women’s 200 Backstroke:
South Australians Melissa Morgan and Francis Adcock were the fastest qualifiers in a wide open event but by the halfway mark the two 19-year-olds looked very likely to win all-important Olympic berths. It was the AIS-based Adcock who led at the third turn but Morgan powered past in the last 25-meters to touch in 2:12.90 (outside her PR 2:12.36) with Adcock next in a PR 2:13.48. Karina Leane, another South Aussie, based at the AIS in Canberra was third in 2:14.46. Coincidently, Morgan is coached by Graeme Brown, whose last swimmer to make an Olympic team was Anna McVann in 1984.
Men’s 50 Breaststroke:
Australian record-holder Brenton Rickard went just 0.03 of a second outside his time to win his first national title in 28.16 from Mark Reily (28.30) and the 100-200 winner Jim Piper third in 28.45.