HOBART, Australia, August 26. ACCORDING to Swimming Australia reports, Libby Lenton set the first Commonwealth record of the meet and Leisel Jones and Grant Hackett just missed world records at the 2006 Telstra Australian Short Course Championships in Hobart on Saturday.
It was a golden night for Lenton, who clocked a sizzling 25.71 for the record in the 50 SCM butterfly and also won the 100-meter freestyle.
Earlier, Jones and Hackett had flirted with their own world records in the 200-meter breaststroke and 400-meter freestyle events in a thrilling night of racing before a packed Tattersall’s Aquatic Center.
In the 50 fly, Lenton flew off the blocks and powered down the first lap, turning in the lead, before maintaining her form over the second 25 meters.
“My 50m fly personal best coming into this meet was pretty soft compared to my other PB’s,” Lenton said. “My short course compared to my long course was only 0.1 faster so if I was going to do a personal best it was going to be in this event. I was really hoping to go a good time because my butterfly has been going really well in training and I was pretty happy with that time. It’s really exciting because I think it’s my first record in butterfly.”
In the 100 free, Lenton stopped the clock in 52.78 from joint runners up Jodie Henry and Shayne Reese 54.22.
Jones may have missed her own world record in the 200m breaststroke but indicated she still could be in record-breaking form. The Queenslander was 1.58 shy of her 2003 world record when she clocked 2:19.33 – the fifth-fastest time in history for the event – to claim the gold medal.
“I probably wasn’t really prepared for a 2:17 after my heat swim this morning but I’m happy with a 2:19,” Jones said. “Last year I did a 2:20 so tonight’s swim was better than that so I’m pleased. I was pretty flat this morning and I’ve been in hard training so it is pretty hard to back up.”
Jones said she was a better chance to break American star Tara Kirk’s world 100-meter breaststroke record of 1:04.79.
“I am pretty excited about the 100 actually. I was .05 off it (the world record) at World Cup (last November) and that was in hard training so obviously I have gone that fast before,” Jones said. “Obviously, it is a world record that I really want but I won’t be disappointed if I don’t get it because we are in incredibly hard training at the moment.”
Jones kicked off the year with two world records in January, followed up with two more world records and four gold medals at the Commonwealth Games in March before dominating the prestigious Mare Nostrum Series in Europe with nine wins from as many races in June.
Minutes after Jones thrilled the sell-out crowd, Telstra Dolphins Australian Team Captain Hackett also nudged his own world record in the men’s 400 free.
Hackett clocked a stunning 3:35.73, the fastest time in the world this year and the fifth-fastest time ever, to defeat 18-year-old Nic Donald (3:46.57) and Craig Stevens (3:47.41).
Hackett now holds six of the ten fastest times in history with Ian Thorpe holding the second, fourth, sixth and eighth best times.
Remarkably, it was only the third time Hackett has won the event at an Australian Short Course Championship following victories in 1997 and 2005.
Hackett was disappointed with his winning performance in last night’s 200m freestyle but tonight he was very pleased with his swim.
“To come out and swim that sort of time is pretty pleasing,” Hackett said. “The way it felt was really good, because I didn’t feel that special in the warm up or anything, so at this stage of hard work that’s pretty good. To get up and swim times like that considering the workload I’m doing, I know I can still swim best times.”
Hackett will swim the 1500 free, an event he hasn’t lost since the 1996 Olympic Trials, on Monday night.
In other finals, veteran Adam Pine won back-to-back 100 fly titles by clocking 51.92 to beat home Victorians Sam Ashby (52.93) and Jason Cohen (53.00).
Matt Welsh won his 26th national short course crown and his 47th Australian title overall when he took out the men’s 200 back in 1:54.01. Welsh defeated Michael Jackson (1:55.21) and Grant Brits (1:55.72).
Triple Commonwealth Games gold medalist Sophie Edington posted a time of 58.93 to win the women’s 100 back from 2004 Olympian Fran Adcock (59.65) and Pan Pac representative Karina Leane (59.75). All three medalists clocked personal-best times with Edington maintaining her position at second on the Australian all time top ten, Adcock moving to seventh and Leane to ninth.
Matt Lenton, 20, arguably the biggest man in Australian swimming, staked his claim to recently retired Olympic finalist Brett Hawke’s mantle as Australia’s fastest swimmer with his initial Australian open title in the 50 free.
The Indiana University-trained hulk clocked 22.14 to hold off Jonathon Newton (22.23) and improving AIS-based 19-year-old Kirk Palmer (22.24).
Commonwealth Games bronze medalist Melissa Gorman (8:27.57) won the 800 free from Redcliffe Leagues Lawnton club mate Kylie Palmer (8:29.96) and Haylee Reddaway (8:34.93).
Christian Sprenger (100m breaststroke), Leith Brodie (100m individual medley) and Brooke Hanson (100m individual medley) all qualified fastest for their respective finals tomorrow night. Brodie clocked 54.34 to be just 0.11 outside Adam Lucas’ Australian record.