CRANBURY, New Jersey, August 25. SINCE Inge de Bruijn clocked 24.13 on her way to the gold medal in the 50-meter freestyle at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, the world-record effort has gone largely unchallenged. But, with the Beijing Olympics creeping closer and several quick times posted of late, there's reason to believe de Bruijn's mark, registered in a semifinal, is within reach.
Not only did Sweden's Therese Alshammar recently post a time of 24.23, the second-fastest in history, a veteran and a newcomer have made noise on the international scene. First, 40-year-old Dara Torres set an American record of 24.53 in the 50 free at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis earlier this month. By the time Beijing rolls around, perhaps Torres will find a little more speed to challenge not only for a gold medal, but for a global standard.
Meanwhile, Alshammar seems to be getting faster and coming within a tenth of a second of the world mark is proof she has what it takes to be the quickest sprint in history. More, 15-year-old Cate Campbell has thrown her name into the ring with a winning time of 24.48 at the Japan International Meet this week. So fast at such a young age, she could be ready to pop an even bigger swim with another year of training.
Finally, there's Libby Lenton, the reigning world champion, who went 24.53 in Melbourne earlier this year. A big-meet performer, Lenton cannot be counted out. Will it be difficult for someone to match Inky's historic time? Sure. But, with the way the sprinters have been looking of late, there's reason to believe a record is out there.