By John Lohn
ASTON, Pennsylvania, December 31. A little less than a week ago, we revealed a few hopes for what will unfold during the upcoming year. Here is the second part of that feature. Also, to all of our readers at SwimmingWorldMagazine.com, thanks for your interest and attention and may 2006 treat you well.
**When the NCAA Men’s Championships get rolling in March, let’s hope that the 800-yard freestyle relay lives up to the hype that will undoubtedly surround the event. There’s a legitimate chance that at least three schools will crack the NCAA record of 6:16.25, held by the University of Florida. Aside from the Gators, expect Arizona and Michigan to make a record run. And don’t count out Texas.
**Here’s to a second man dipping below the 48-second barrier in the 100 freestyle, a feat accomplished only by Pieter van den Hoogenband of the Netherlands. While Italy’s Filippo Magnini is the reigning world champion, South Africa’s Roland Schoeman appears to be the best bet, as he possesses plenty of front-end speed. Here’s to Schoeman also lowering Alex Popov’s world record in the 50 free, which currently stands at 21.64. Schoeman won the world title in 21.69 last summer.
**With the Australian Commonwealth Games Trials just around the corner, sizzling swimming is expected from Melbourne. As for the women’s 100 free, maybe the competition will produce a trio of athletes under the 54-second mark for the two-lap sprint. Yes, there’s a possibility that Libby Lenton, Jodie Henry and Alice Mills could each go 53-plus.
**A presence on the international scene since 1986, Great Britain’s Mark Foster has enjoyed an illustrious career in the sprint freestyles. For one of his final hurrahs, here’s to the 35-year-old earning a medal at the World Short Course Championships in Shanghai. It would be a great accomplishment for the veteran, who was wrongly denied a berth to Athens in 2004 due to the stringent standards set forth by National Performance Director Bill Sweetenham. The great ones deserve better.
**Let’s hope that the upcoming year reveals the truth about the breaststroke events on the international scene. With a dolphin kick now legal off the start and turn, there should be time drops in the event on an across-the-board basis. For some of those athletes who don’t lower their times, it can be suggested that they’ve been getting away with using the dolphin kick prior to its legalization.
**For 11 years, Tom Dolan’s NCAA and American record of 3:38.18 has gone untouched in the 400 individual medley. Perhaps this is the year that the standard goes down, particularly with Southern Cal’s Ous Mellouli back as the defending champion. More, maybe Neil Walker’s 100 back record (44.92) is in jeopardy due to the presence of Florida’s Ryan Lochte and Northwestern’s Matt Grevers.