By Ian hanson, Belinda Dennett and Phillip Whitten
MELBOURNE, Dec. 9. THE men's 100 metres butterfly was the race the crowd had come to see and swimming superstars Michael Klim and Geoff Huegill didn't disappoint.
Huegill exploded from the blocks and had a half body length on Klim at the first turn. But Klim fought back and the two swimmers had a clear break on the rest of the field.
Klim tried valiantly to rein Huegill in but "Skippy" showed the benefit of having already raced several of the World Cups and was never headed.
In the end the margin was over a full second as Huegill touched in 50.71 to establish a new Commonwealth, Australian and World Cup record.
It was also the third fastest performance in history, only twice bettered by world record holder Lars Frolander from Sweden – the Olympic and world champion.
"Commonwealth, Australian and Championship record, so I guess I cleaned up. It's the first time I've held them and it's great," Huegill said after the race.
"You can't really focus on a world record, otherwise your race plan goes out the window. You just go in with an open and relaxed mind. I was a bit long on the wall again so it shows there's room for improvement."
Klim was second in 51.77 and Australian Leon Dunne was third in 53.46.
To top off a great meet for Huegill, he was later awarded Male Swimmer of the Meet and received a check for AUS$7,000 (US$3,500) for his world record swim of 22.84 in the 50m fly on the second night.
The swim earned him 1021 points and puts him well on top of the FINA World Cup pointscore, with the winner to earn $US50,000 at the end of the Series, which concludes in Berlin on January 26 and 27.
In addition his coach, Ken Wood, received an AUS $5,000 (US$2,500) bonus.
The crowd barely had time to catch it's breath before Great Britain's Zoe Baker went agonizingly close to breaking the world record in the 50m breaststroke final. Her time of 30.61 was just 0.05 seconds off the mark but was enough to award her the Female Swimmer of the Meet bonus of AUS$7,000 (US$3,500) – with a score of 1008 points.
Baker's time equals the Commonwealth record set by South Africa's Penny Heyns in 1999. That time had stood as the world mark until December 3, when China's Luo Xuejuan and Li Wei made swimming history with a simultaneous touch, both breaking the world mark with a time of 30.56.
The USA's Amanda Beard took second in 30.89 with Australia's Brooke Hanson (31.20) taking the bronze for the third time in the breaststroke events at this meet.
Baker's time was not the only record set in the race. Beard's second place time of 30.89 seconds was an American record, breaking the old mark of 30.94 set by 2000 Olympic champion, Megan Quann, at the Novo Nordisk Sprint Cup in New York on October 20. It was Beard's first American record since she was a naive 14 year-old in 1996.
Baker's swim places her in fourth place overall after five World Cup meets, although Series leader Natalie Coughlin is ineligible for the prizemoney as she did not contest either Shanghai or Melbourne.
Baker will have the opportunity to improve on her performance when she contests the next World Cup leg in Imperia, Italy on January 14,15.
"I was initially disappointed that the record was so close and I saw Amanda so close, I was thinking maybe this was a slow swim. That was a big PB for Amanda," Baker said after the race.
Beard continued her successful World Cup tour in the 200m individual medley, adding another gold medal to take her tally at this meet to three as well as a silver. Her time of 2:10.67 took two seconds off her personal best time to beat home Yana Klochkova (2:11.57) and Jennifer Reilly (2:13.21).
It was an emotional moment when in his first attempt at the 1500 since having both shoulders reconstructed, triple Atlanta Olympic medalist, Daniel Kowalski, won the gold medal in a time of 15.03.33.
He took the opportunity to thank all the people who had supported him in his long and painful comeback, in particular his family and coach Denis Cotterell. Craig Stevens finished second in 15.04.28 and Italy's Nicola Selleri was third in 15.22.05.
World record holder Ed Moses put on an impressive display in the 200m breaststroke final to set a new World Cup record of 2:07.59. Jim Piper, whose record it was, took second in 2:09.15 with fellow Australian Simon Cowley third in 2:11.01.
"This is bigger than our National Championships. You get three to four thousand people and we are lucky to get two and a half. To get the excitement of a good meet is great and that is why I am here. Thank you guys," Moses said after the race.
In one of the closest races of the night, Australian Elka Graham and American, Lindsay Benko went stroke for stroke in the final of the 400m freestyle. Graham got to the wall first in a personal best time of 1:56.12, with Benko second in 1:56.21 and Rada Owen third in 1:57.19.
The US showed its supremacy in the men's sprint events with Jason Lezak taking the 50m freestyle in 21.75 His teammate, Aaron Ciarla, was second in 22.09 while Australian Ashley Callus took third in 22.21.
Between them, Lezak, Moses, Benko, Beard and Rachel Komisarz, won 20 medals – half of them gold.
Yana Klochkova (2:09.30) showed why she is a duel Olympic gold medalist when she took out the 200m butterfly despite having arrived in the country on a twenty hour flight less than 48 hours ago. Australia's rising stars in this event, Felicity Galvez (2:10.09) and Heidi Crawford (2:11.05) finished second and third respectively.
In the women's 50m backstroke final, Germany's Janine Pietsch took the gold in 28.00 with Diane Bui Duyet from France, taking the silver in 28.39 and South Africa's Charlene Whittstock the bronze in 28.43.
With world champion, Matt Welsh disqualified in the morning's heats, the 100m backstroke final was left wide open. It was the German pair, Toni Helbig (53.26) and Sebastian Halgasch (53.51) who seized the moment with Helbig taking the gold and Halgasch the silver. Beau Mannix from Australia took the bronze in 53.72 as Welsh watched from the stands having swum 52.69 before the controversial disqualification.
World Cup V
Day Three: December 9, 2001
25 meter pool
Women's 200 metres butterfly
1. Yana Klochkova (UKR) 2:09.30
2. Felicity Galvez (AUS) 2.10.09
3. Heidi Crawford (AUS) 2.11.05
Men's 100 metres butterfly
1. Geoff Huegill (AUS) 50.71 CR, WCR
2. Michael Klim (AUS) 51.77
3. Leon Dunne (AUS) 53.46
Women's 50 metres breaststroke
1. Zoe Baker (GBR) 30.61 CR
2. Amanda Beard (USA) 30.89 NR
3. Brooke Hanson (AUS) 31.20
Men's 200 metres breaststroke
1. Ed Moses (USA) 2:07.59 WCR
2. Jim Piper (AUS) 2:09.15
3. Simon Cowley (AUS) 2:11.01
Women's 200 metres freestyle
1. Elka Graham (AUS) 1:56.12
2. Lindsay Benko (USA) 1:56.21
3. Rada Owen (USA) 1:57.19
Men's 50 metres freestyle
1. Jason Lezak (USA) 21.75
2. Aaron Ciarla (USA) 22.09
3. Ashley Callus (AUS) 22.21
Women's 200 metres individual medley
1. Amanda Beard (USA) 2:10.67
2. Yana Klochkova (UKR) 2:11.57
3. Jennifer Reilly (AUS) 2:13.21
Men's 400 metres individual medley
1. Justin Norris (AUS) 4:11.15
2. Grant McGregor (AUS) 4:12.23
3. Dean Kent (NZL) 4:12.83
Women's 50 metres backstroke
1. Janine Pietsch (GER) 28.00
2. Diane Bui Duyet (FRA) 28.39
3. Charlene Wittstock (RSA) 28.43
Men's 100 metres backstroke
1. Toni Helbig (GER) 53.26
2. Sebastian Halgasch (GER) 53.51
3. Beau Mannix (AUS) 53.72
Men's 1,500 metres freestyle
1. Daniel Kowalski (AUS) 15:03.33
2. Craig Stevens (AUS) 15:04.28
3. Nicola Selleri (ITA) 15:33.88
CR: Commonwealth Record
WCR: World Cup Record
NR: National Record