By John Lohn
CRANBURY, New Jersey, January 3. STILL welcoming in the New Year, it seemed an appropriate time to take a glance at the world-record ledger and make a call as to which five records seemed to be at the greatest risk in 2007. With the World Championships slated for Melbourne in March, that site is likely to produce ample global standards. In no particular order, here we go.
Women's 100 Freestyle
This event figures to get considerably faster leading up to the Beijing Olympics, largely due to the fact that there is quality depth in the two-lap freestyle. While Germany's Britta Steffen holds the current standard of 53.30, don't be surprised if the event witness a 52-point swim in the near future. Yes, a time of that sort would be a major dip, but with the likes of Steffen, Libby Lenton, Amanda Weir and Natalie Coughlin on the scene, it could happen.
Men's 200 Backstroke
Because he can seemingly do whatever he pleases in the distance dorsal, look for Aaron Peirsol to further lower his world record in the 200 backstroke. Undefeated in the discipline since the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Peirsol has continually shaved time off his world record. It would be foolish to think 2007 will pass without Peirsol getting at least a little quicker.
Women's 200 Butterfly
One of the best events on the female side at the World Champs figures to be the 200 butterfly showdown between Aussie Jessicah Schipper and Poland's Otylia Jedrzejczak. The two had a dynamite clash in Montreal at the 2005 World Champs, with Jedrzejczak taking a controversial win. Then last summer, Schipper went 2:05.40 to take the global standard from Jedrzejczak. The rivalry very well could generate the first 2:04 in history.
Men's 200 Breaststroke
This event is the playground of Brendan Hansen, and his current standard of 2:08.50 is downtown, nearly a full second faster than anyone else has ever produced. The possibility of a 2:07 from Hansen exists. Last summer, when he broke his 2004 record twice, Hansen did so using two different race strategies. If he finds that perfect combination, look out.
Women's 100 Breaststroke
This last one might be a bail out, but you can't talk world records these days without mentioning Leisel Jones, the Aussie sensation who has taken the female breaststroke to previously unknown territory. Holding the world mark at 1:05.09, Jones has a 1:04 in her arsenal. It's a just a matter of when she decides to uncork that almost unfathomable performance.