BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA. TUNING up for the Australian World Championship Trials meet beginning March 24 in Melbourne, Olympians Liesel Jones (breaststrokes) and Geoff Huegill (butterfly) recorded impressive early-season long course times during the State Age Group and Open Championships here.
Jones, who made Australia's Olympic team last September and won a bronze medal in the 100 (pr 1:07.49), looked very race-ready with her 1:08.74-2:29.04 Open wins. She did even better in the 200 prelims (2:28.03). Her career best double-century is a 2:26.59 from last winter's (the northern hemisphere's summer's) early August meet in Brisbane, which ranked her 10th globally for the year.
Huegill, Olympic silver medalist in the 100 fly who set a Games' record in the semis (51.96) that ranked No. 1 globally for 2000, won here in an easy 53.52. The Sydney fly winner was Sweden's Lars Frolander (European record 52.00), who is a former NCAA champ for Coach Eddie Sutton's SMU Mustangs, and holds the U.S. Open-collegiate record in the yards version of
this event at 45.59.
Huegill will be after teammate Michael Klim's world-record 51.81 set during a time trial in December of 1999 at the Australian Institute of.
In fact, Huegill's 51.96 is the fastest 100 fly ever
under truly competitive conditions and arguably the
"real" world record.
Several other prominent Aussies acquited themselves well at the Open Championships, held at the Chandler Aquatic Centre. Backstroker-IMer Robert van der Zant, still going strong at 25, won both backstroke races
(56.85-2:03.90); both IMs (2:03.36-4:24.83) and the 200 free too (1:51+).
Van der Zant ranked 10th globally last season in the 200 IM (pr 2:01.47 from the Australian Olympic Trials in May), but in the 400 IM was not among the Top 50 in the world. His pr here is 4:23.70 from the '98 season that ranked him 27th globally.
Olympic 1500 gold medalist Grant Hackett looked in fine form while winning the 400 free (3:49.91) and sprinter Ashley Callus — a member of the winning and world record-setting 400 free relay at Sydney — showed he's lost none of his speed while "crusing" to 22.75-49.53 50-100 free victories.
Callus ranked 23rd last year in the 50 free (22.54) and 19th in the century (49.46) with both times prs.