Hackett Bounces Back With 800 Freestyle Win at Australian Championships

By Jason Marsteller

BRISBANE, Australia, December 6. GRANT Hackett overcame last night's exhaustion that forced him to withdraw from the 200 freestyle finals to capture the 800 free crown at the Chandler Aquatic Center on Tuesday in Australia. Meanwhile, Bronte Barratt scored an upset victory in the 200 free as she downed Linda Mackenzie and Libby Lenton in the event at the Australian Long Course Championships.

Men's 200 Butterfly Finals
Travis Nederpelt claimed his third consecutive 200 fly Australian national title by touching in 1:57.45. After trailing second-place finisher Nick D'Arcy (1:58.00) at the 50-meter mark, 26.82-27.01, Nederpelt quickly turned it around to close out the half-second victory through the rest of the race. Joshua Krogh picked up third place in 1:59.44.

"It's really good getting the win and that's what the National Championships is all about, come here and getting the gold," Nederpelt said. "But I also feel like I've won the Norm Smith medal on a losing team because I've just missed out on the ‘A" qualifying time which would have been nice. I had a bit of a dog touch and that pushed me over the limit."

Women's 200 Freestyle Finals
17-year-old Bronte Barratt shocked the crowd by capturing her first national title over favorites Linda Mackenzie and Libby Lenton in the 200 free. Barratt clocked a 1:58.07 for the eighth-fastest 200 free effort this year, and also moved her into third all-time on the Australian charts. Mackenzie wound up with silver in 1:59.24, well behind Barratt, while Lenton picked up bronze in 1:59.29.

Barratt back-halfed the race as she kept in Lenton's hip pocket through the first 150 meters, trailing 1:28.20 to 1:28.10, before dropping the hammer in the final 50 meters.

"I'm so excited again, it was exciting on the first night to make it (to the World Championships) but to win the 200 was so unexpected, so that's so much more exciting," Barratt said. "I'm so excited to be swimming in Melbourne with the home crowd and it will be bigger than the Commonwealth Games so I am going to go back and do a lot of hard training.

"Obviously everyone knows that Libby goes out hard because she's a 100 meter swimmer and I knew that if I was close enough after the third 50 I would have some sort of chance to overtake her on the last lap and that happened for me," Barratt said. "I've got so much more that I can do in training and now that I have finished school I can concentrate more on my swimming."

Men's 50 Breaststroke Finals
Brenton Rickard finished the sprint breast event with his third consecutive Australian Championship in which he swept the 50 and 100 breast titles. Rickard finished just .09 seconds off his national-record of 28.02 set on March 15, 2005, by hitting the wall in 28.11 for the 50 breast title. Rene Paccagnan snared silver in 28.62, while Robert McDonald took bronze in 28.94.

"That was good. I've been close to breaking that 28 so many times now and I think I went 28.1 all the way back in 2003 and I just can't quite get over the edge," Rickard said. "That's racing but I am not so much concentrating on the 50 these days, I'm more of a 100 and 200 meter swimmer but it was quick and I've got to be happy with that."

Men's 800 Freestyle Finals
After withdrawing from the 200 free finals last night, Grant Hackett did not look like he was in any position to have success at these championships. He proved everyone wrong by taking that bit of rest and clocking the fastest 800 free in the world this year with a 7:48.54 in the distance event.

He traded the lead with silver-medalist Craig Stevens (7:50.71) throughout the first 500 meters before taking the advantage for good at the 550-meter mark, 5:24.95-5:25.07. Cameron Smith lodged a third-place time of 8:04.76 to close out the podium.

"That's a relief to be honest. I was starting to feel a bit unnerved by the way I was starting to feel after the 400 and to get up there tonight and swim a pretty good time, it's good to get that one under the belt," Hackett said. "It didn't really feel good to be honest but I expect that. I guess I've come to terms with how I'm feeling and it's lowered my expectations of this meet.

"I've come in with a half taper and it's put me in no man's land and that's unfortunate, there's no more excuses than that and I just have to get up and race and qualify for my events which I have done tonight. Now I've just got to do it for the 1500," Hackett continued. "It was probably a good move to have pulled out of the 200."

Men's 100 Freestyle Semi-Finals
Eamon Sullivan (49.11) and Ashley Callus (49.49) both recorded sub-50 times as the top two qualifiers from the 100 free semi-final round. Meanwhile, Kenrick Monk clocked the third-quickest time in 50.01, just ahead of Michael Klim's fourth-place 50.09.

Women's 50 Backstroke Semi-Finals
21-year-old Kingscliff teammates Tay Zimmer (28.87) and Sophie Edington (29.43) clocked the two fastest times of the 50 back semis to be in position for the title tomorrow. Additionally, budding superstar 14-year-old Emily Seebohm tied with Meagen Nay for third with matching 29.58s. Seebohm must like ties after dead heating with Zimmer for the 100 back national title last night.

Women's 200 Butterfly Semi-Finals
World record holder Jessicah Schipper might be swimming against only herself in finals as she stopped the clock in 2:07.74, well ahead of second-fastest qualifier Felicity Galvez's 2:08.82. Alicia Coutts also posted the third-fastest semi-final time of 2:11.46.

Men's 200 IM Semi-Finals
Leith Brodie recorded the eighth-fastest time in the world this year by clocking a 2:00.57 in semis of the 200 IM. After chopping five seconds off his prelim time of 2:05.95, Brodie may have enough in the tank to take down Ian Thorpe's national record of 1:59.66 set on July 25, 2003. In other action, Adam Lucas hit the wall in 2:03.40 for second, while Sam Ashby turned in a third-place 2:04.67.

Multi-Disability Events
Tamleh Wilson claimed the women's 100 breast crown in 1:27.20, while Richard Eliason captured the men's equivalent in 1:15.14. In the final event of the night, Jacqueline Freney won the women's 400 free in 5:36.41.

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