By Stephen J. Thomas
BRISBANE, Qld., Australia. LEISEL Jones tonight laid down the gauntlet to her main breaststroke rivals at the Chandler pool just eight months out from the big meet in Athens when she became the fourth fastest performer in history over the four laps, behind joint world-record holders China’s Qi Hui and American Amanda Beard, and retired South African legend Penny Heyns.
The determined 18-year-old Queenslander broke her own national record by 0.61 seconds, which she set in Barcelona in finishing second behind Beard and in front of Qi.
Jones, who was not fully tapered for this meet, has increased the amount of training at race pace with shorter rest these past few months since breaking the world record for the 100 meter race in Barcelona. It has been a purple patch for Jones, who set short course world records for the 100 and 200 events in Melbourne last November.
The Aussie women's sprinters are also looking good at this early stage. Alice Mills, the Barcelona silver medalist, won a fast 50 freestyle final in 25.31 to maintained her ascendancy over her teammate and bronze medalist Lisbeth Lenton (25.51); over Jodie Henry, the World Champs 100 free silver medalist (25.78); and over former Australian record holder and dual Olympian Sarah Ryan (26.08).
Ashley Callus added the one-lap sprint to his 100 freestyle state title earlier in the meet with a comfortable win in 22.89 over Jono Newton (23.09) and Jeff English (23.15).
AIS based Queenslander Regan Harrison easily took the 200 breaststroke in 2:16.78 from Rob McDonald (2:18.35) and Sydneysider Luke Trickett (2:18.53).
Olympic medalist Justin Norris took out the 400IM in a very solid 4:23.83 from Adam Lucas 4:24.09 and veteran Rob Van De Zant 4:26.92. Ephraim Hannant who trains under Denis Cotterell at the Miami Club, smashed the State record for 15-year-olds with an eye-catching swim – 4:28.66.
Sixteenyear-old, US Junior Team member, Julia Smit, easily took out the women’s event in 4:47.91 from 17-year-old Japanese Misa Amano 4:49.39 and Aussie World Champs representative Jessica Abbott 4:53.59. It was the first victory here for a member of the US Junior National Team.
Whitney Hall, 15, was the only other American to win a medal this day, as she finished third in the 200m breaststroke in 2:35.81.
Other American top-10 placings:
Men's 400m IM: C.J. Nuess, 17, fourth in 4:28.26; Scott Lathrope, 17, seventh in 4:30.66.
Men's 50m Free: Gil Stovall, 18, sixth in 23.65.
Men's 200m Breaststroke: Matt Lowe, 18, fourth in 2:18.73; Kevin Callahan, 17, fifth in 2:19.98; David Ash, ninth in prelims in 2:24.04.
Women's 400m IM: Kate Dwelley, 14, fourth in 4:57.18 (4:56.37p); Ava Ohlgren, 15, fifth in prelims (4:59.96); Jennifer Illescas, 16, sixth in prelims (5:02.59); Whitney Hall, 15, tenth in prelims (5:05.49).
Women's 50m Free: Skye Elbert, 15, seventh in 26.46.
Women's 200m Breaststroke: Katy Houston, 16, tenth in 2:45.32 (2:41.29p).