By Stephen J. Thomas
Sydney, Australia – The Olympic pool has not gotten any slower since the Pan Pacs last August with seven new championship records and numerous national records established on the first night of the World Cup meet.
The Aussies set three new championship marks: Susie O’Neill broke the seven-year-old record held by German Franziska Van Almsick for the 200m freestyle by 0.18 seconds, swimming 1:55.66, the 4th fastest all-time. Aussies Lori Munz (1:57.36) and Kasey Giteau (1:58.03) filled the placings. Ian Thorpe, who had only yesterday been named Australian swimmer of the year, went within a second of Grant Hackett’s world mark to swim a sizzling 3:35.75 and in doing so beat Hackett who recorded 3:38.29. Italian Massi Rosolino (3:45.87) was third ahead of a much-improved Kieren Perkins (3:47.08). Michael Klim continued his record-breaking form swimming the second fastest 50m butterfly all-time in 23.27, only 0.06 of a second outside his world mark. In doing so he broke Russian Denis Pankratov’s three-year-old championship record. Sabir Muhammad broke his own American record in finishing second in 23.45, moving him to 5th best all-time performer over the distance.
Lenny Krazelburg reversed his defeat by Aussie Matt Welsh in Hobart to swim the 2nd fastest all time 100m backstroke in 51.73 and break his own championship record set at College Park last November. His time was only 0.30 seconds outside fellow American Jeff Rouse’s ’93 world mark.
The queen of breaststroke, South African Penny Heyns, broke Aussie Samantha Riley’s two-year-old mark over 100m to record 1:06.61, beating Alicja Peczak of Poland (1:07.90) and Rebecca Brown (1:07.94).
Unheralded Japanese swimmer Sachiko Yamada produced the 4th best ever performance for the women’s 800m freestyle in 8:17.76. Only Petra Schneider and Astrid Strauss of the GDR in the 1980′s have swum faster. Second place went to fifteen-year-old Chinese swimmer Yan Zhang. Zhang improved eight seconds on her Hobart swim to record 8:21.18 and also when under the old championship record held by Kirsten Vlieghuis of The Netherlands.
Zhan Shu from China continued her winning 200IM sequence in Australia breaking Jana Klochkova’s record in a time of 2:10.26 beating the fast finishing Lori Munz who swam a Australian and Commonwealth record (2:10.40). Kristine Quance-Julian took third in 2:12.15.
The US women took three events for the night. Jenny Thompson easily won the 100m butterfly in 57.29 from Aussie Susie O’Neill (58.36 PB) and Yi Ruan of China (58.44 PB) and then the 50m freestyle in 24.78 from Louise Johnke of Sweden and Sarah Ryan of Australia. Lindsey Benko also had a win in the 200m backstroke in a personal best 2:08.89 from Aussies Giaan Rooney (2:09.04) and Danielle Lewis (2:10.02).
Other Australian to win on the night were Diana Calub, who took the 50m backstroke in an Australian and Commonwealth record time of 28.17 and Atlanta silver medallist Scott Miller broke the Australian record in the 200m fly in an excellent 1:54.48. Ryan Mitchell was only 0.16 outside the world record for the 200m breaststroke (2:07.95) and Michael Klim added another win in the 100m freestyle in a fast 47.59. Despite his heavy recent racing program, it was his second best time for the sprint. Grant McGregor had a good win in the 400IM (4:10.60) over Curtis Myden of Canada (4:11.37) and Jani Sievinen of Finland (4:12.09).
Yi Zhu of China had his second win over the 50m breaststroke (27.50) at the Aussie meets as did Jani Sievinen in the 100IM (54.87).