TUNIS, Tunisia, Sept. 3. AGELESS 31-year-old French butterflyer Franck Esposito, Italian freestyle star Emiliano Brembilla and Spanish flyer Mireia Garcia were the record setters on Day 1 of the XIVth Mediterranean Games here today.
Esposito, who set a European record in the 200 fly at the World Championships six weeks ago — 1:55.03 in the semis — but finished fourth in the race itself, went a 53.66 to break his own 100 fly Games record set
four years ago in Bari.
Similarly, Brembilla, 1997 European 400-1500 free champ, went a quick 1:48.61 200 free to capture the gold and break the old Games standard of 1:49.27 by compatriot Giorgio Lamberti from the 1987 edition of this competition in Latakia, Syria.
Garcia splashed to a 2:11.28 clocking in the 200 fly for the third Games record on Opening Day.
The Games are a quadrennial competition for countries bordering the Med Sea, and this year 23 nations are represented, ranging from Albania to Yugoslavia.
Lamberti went on to win the 1989 European 200 free title at Bonn with a then world-record 1:46.69. His mark would last a decade until a certain Mr. Hackett came along and led off an 800 free relay in 1:46.67 during the Australian Nationals/Pan Pacific Trials that March in Brisbane, knocking it down by .02.
Then a Mr. Thorpe took over and he has subsequently lowered the record to its current 1:44.06 at the World Championships.
Brembilla's 200 free pr is 1:47.58 from Fukuoka, a time that earned him fourth behind Thorpedo, Dutchman Pieter van den Hoogenband (Olympic gold medalist/
former wr-holder) and America's Klete Keller, NCAA 200 yard free champ for Coach Mark Schubert's USC Trojans last March.
The Italian record is now 1:46.60 by Massi Rosolino, Sydney bronze medalist, who did his pr in the semis of the Olympics.
Esposito's 100 fly pr and national record is 52.52 from last year's French Winter Nationals in Rennes. That time ranks the veteran Frenchman second all-time on the Continent behind Russia's Denis Panktatov's 52.27 that won the Olympics in Atlanta. Esposito's best 100 fly this year is a 53.11 from the prelims at Fukuoka.
Runner-up in the 200 free was Brembilla's teammate, Matteo Pellicciari (1:49.27), a time that betters his old pr of 1:49.45 from last spring's Italian Nationals-World Championship Trials in Livorno. Third was Greece's Athanasios Oikonomou (1:51.31).
In the 100 fly second was Italy's Mattia Nalesso in a national-record 53.86, breaking the old standard of 53.87 by Luis Laera from the 1993 National Championships in Rome that August. Bronze medalist was Yugoslavia's Vladan Markovic (54.51).
In women's events, Spain's Laura Roca won the gold in the 100 free (57.23), just missing the Games record of 57.09 by France's Catherine Plewinski from the 1993 meet in Languedoc, France.
In the 200 fly, Spain's Garcia broke the Games record of 2:12.44 with her winning 2:11.28. The old standard belonged to France's Cecile Jeanson and was also done at Languedoc.
Garcia's pr-NR is 2:09.97 from the Fukuoka semis, a time that ranks her eighth globally for the year.
The final race of the day was the women's 800 free relay, won by Spain in a Games record 8:13.30.
Competition continues through Friday.
* * * * *
Don Talbot, legendary Australian head man whose 45-year career in swimming has landed him at such diverse places as Thunder Bay, Ontario in the late 1970s and then at Nashville Aquatics coaching Tracy Caulkins & Co. in 1980, has coached his final meet — the Goodwill Games that concluded yesterday with Australia winning.
Talbot, 67, Aussie national team head coach since 1989, is retiring as head coach of the Telstra Dolphins team and was given the traditional "heave to"
into the pool following his charges' gold medal-winning performances on both the men's and women's side.
"This is the best Australian team I have ever been associated with," Talbot told former Olympic backstroke star and Australian Channel Nine TV reporter Nicole Stevenson.
"It has been a privilege to be in charge of such a wonderful group and I hope we have provided you all with plenty to cheer about," Talbot told the adoring crowd of 5000 on hand at the Chandler Aquatic Centre in Brisbane.
"I'll probably stay involved in the sport in another position but it will not be as a head coach," Talbot said.
The Aussie swimemrs on the Goodwill Games team collected a cool $200,000 for their men's, women's and overall victories, not a bad week's worth of work.