SHANGHAI, China, April 8. THE fact that a world record was set in the women’s 400 freestyle relay wasn’t much of a surprise on the fourth day of the World Short Course Championships. What was stunning was the team responsible. In a race that figured to belong to the Aussie women, the Netherlands delivered a global standard of 3:33.32, under the former record of 3:34.55, established by China in 1997.
The Dutch foursome of Inge Dekker (53.52), Hinkelien Schreuder (53.63), Chantal Groot (54.00) and Marleen Veldhuis (52.17) registered a one-plus second victory over the Australian ladies, who finished in 3:34.95. Veldhuis earlier earned silver in the 100 free, behind Aussie Libby Lenton. Sweden picked up bronze while the United States was a disappointing fourth (tie) using the quartet of Maritza Correia, Margaret Hoelzer, Mary DeScenza and Amanda Weir.
On the men’s side, Australia’s Matt Welsh, long recognized as a stroke sprint sensation, doubled in the 50 backstroke and 50 butterfly. In the back, Welsh stopped the clock in 23.53 to knock off Germany’s Thomas Rupprath (23.70), the world-record holder at 23.27. Germany’s Helge Meeuw was third in 24.01. As for the fly, Welsh eked out the narrowest of victories. The veteran touched the wall in 23.05, just ahead of the 23.06 of Sergiy Breus (Ukraine). Brazil’s Kaio Almeida was another tick behind in 23.07.
The world-record holder in the event, the United States’ Tara Kirk took top honors in the women’s 100 breaststroke, thanks to a championship-record swim of 1:05.25. Kirk held the lead at the 50-meter mark and secured gold over South Africa’s Suzaan Van Biljon (1:05.62) and Aussie Jade Edmistone (1:06.08). American Jessica Hardy was fourth in 1:06.13.
In the other final of the evening, China’s Qi Hui notched a dominant triumph in the women’s 200 individual medley, as her time of 2:09.33 easily topped the 2:10.79 performance of American Kaitlin Sandeno. Aussie Lara Carroll was third in 2:11.77 and the United States’ Alicia Aemisegger was fifth with a mark of 2:12.40.
Among the semifinal victors from Saturday’s competition were Brazil’s Cesar Cielo in the 100 freestyle (47.75) and South Africa’s Ryk Neethling in the 100 individual medley (52.95). Meanwhile, Italy’s Alessandro Terrin and Ukraine’s Oleg Lisogor were the top qualifiers in the 50 breast with showings of 26.64. For the women, Jessicah Schipper (57.52) and Lenton (57.84) gave the Aussies the top two slots in the finals of the women’s 100 fly and Sweden’s Therese Alshammar was swiftest in the semifinal of the 50 free (24.27). Germany’s Janine Pietsch was tops in the 50 backstroke (27.10).