By Phillip Whitten
AUSTIN, June 19. IAN Crocker, Inge De Bruijn and Aaron Peirsol were on fire at the University of Texas natatorium in Austin tonight, as they prepare for the Olympic Games in Athens, now less than two months away.
For Crocker and Peirsol, of course, there's also that small technicality of the US Trials in July. But if tonight's results are any indication, all three swimmers will have their tickets stamped to Athens, arriving in the Greek capital ready to rumble.
Crocker led a 1-2-3-4-5-6 Longhorn sweep of the 100m fly with a brilliant 51.61 second swim — the fastest time of 2004 and the third fastest in history. Only Crocker's own world record of 50.98 from last year's World Championships in Barcelona, and Michael Phelps' second-place finish in 51.10 in that same race are faster. But no one has ever gone as fast as Crocker did tonight, unshaved and untapered. What can he do when he's rested and shaved?
Crocker split 24.25 – 27.36 on the way to his 51.61. When he touched, he removed Phelps' 51.84 from the top of the world list for 2004.
Finishing second tonight was Nate Dusing, 53.92, followed by JD Abercrombie at 54.10. The first non-Longhorn finisher was New England Masters' Jason Eaddy, 28, who placed sEventh with a 55.69.
Th Flying Dutchwoman, Inky de Bruijn won two events tonight, scoring the first and second fastest times in the world for her two efforts. In the 50 free, Inky blazed a 24.70, equaling the world's fastest time this year swum by Libby Lenton at the Australian Trials. Inky owns the world mark at 24.13 sconds.
In the 100 fly, she touched in 58.11, second globally this year behind the 57.36 Petria Thomas swam at the Aussie Trials. Despite the fast time, Inky faded in the final 25 meters. Her splits were 26.84 – 31.27. She holds the world record at 56.61.
2000 US Olympian Erin Phenix was a distant second in the 50 free at 25.96 while another 'Horn, Tanica Jamison, clocked 1:00.29 for second in the 100 fly.
Aaron Peirsol did not lower his own 2004 world best time, but his 1:56.78 for the 200 back is faster than any other swimmer in the world, except Michael Phelps, has swum this year. Peirsol split 57.15 – 59.63 to win by over seven seconds. Josh Davis was the runner-up in 2:03.89.
Yesterday Peirsol sprinted a swift 54.90 to win the 100 meters backstroke.
In other highlights:
* Sara McLarty almost even-split her race to take the women's 400 free in 4:15.37. Fifteen year-old Kelsey Ditto, who led at the 100, was second in 4:18.59.
* Algeria's Mahrez Mebarek took the lead at the 350 meter mark in the men's 400 free to take the event in 3:56.35. Mebarek split 1:58.05 – 1:58.30. Ryan Lochte was second in 3:57.10.
* Hayley McGregory, 18, swam a strong 2:13.65 to complete her sweep of the women's dorsal events. Last night she won the 100 in 1:01.86. Leah Retrum was second in the 200 in 2:16.93.
* Neil Walker led a 1-2-3-4 Longhorn sweep of the 50 free in 22.63. Crocker was second in 23.12, followed by Bryan Jones, 23.17, and Ryan Kafer, 23.23.
* The host Longhorn team swept the 400 medley relay races. The Longhorn women edged the Thunderbolts from Tualatin Hills, Oregon, with a 4:12.34 effort. The 'Horn men just out-touched Algeria by 17-hundredths of a second, finishing in 3:51.41.