By Stephen Thomas
SYDNEY, Jan. 30. IAN Thorpe cruised through the New South Wales Age & Open Long Course Championships held at the Sydney International Aquatic Centre (January 12-19), scoring sufficient points to take male swimmer of the meet honors.
Fellow Olympian Elka Graham, until recently ranked No 1 globally for 2001 in the 200 free, set two PR's to take the corresponding female swimmer of the meet awaed.
Both Graham and Thorpe have been in the middle of hard training with their next major competition the Australian Championships commencing 18 March. These Championships will act as the selection trials for the Commonwealth Games to be held in Manchester, England and the Pan Pacific Games in Yokohama, Japan later this year.
Graham performed particularly well, improving her PR's for the 50 and 100 freestyle in recording times of 26.39 and 55.97 (4th fastest all-time Australian) respectively. The 20-year-old also easily won the 200 free in 2:00.19 and the 400 free in 4:14.28. Her coach, Narelle Simpson, said she was particularly pleased with Graham's improvement over the sprint distances, particularly as she had not tapered for the meet.
Thorpe, the world record-holder, took out the 200 and 400 free in the relatively slow times (for him) of 1:50.13 and 3:51.63, respectively. The Thorpedo finished second behind New Zealand Olympian, Dean Kent in the 200 IM, clocking 2:06.11 behind Kent's 2:04.45, and third behind fellow Olympic gold medalist, Todd Pearson in the Open 100 free, recording 51.37 to Pearson's 50.46.