Story Compiled by John Lohn and Stephen J. Thomas
Photos by Stephen J. Thomas
MELBOURNE, Australia, August 9. POWERING forward like a freight train, Libby Lenton rewrote the record book again on Tuesday, as she further lowered her world record in the short-course version of the 100-meter freestyle. Competing at the Australian Short Course Championships, Lenton blazed 51.70, to split an identical 24.97 but going a further 0.21 under the 51.91 she posted during the semifinals last night.
Fresh off a five-medal showing at the World Championships last month, where she won gold in the 50 free, Lenton easily bested the competition, notching a near-three second triumph over her Montreal relay team-mate Shayne Reese (54.45). At the World Champs, Lenton also won gold in the 400 free and 400 medley relays and took silver in the 100 butterfly and in the 800 free relay.
Grant Hackett lived up to his reputation as the finest distance freestyler in history as he won the 400 freestyle in a very smart 3:36.73, the eight fastest in history over the 16-laps and well in front of a comebacking Craig Stevens (3:45.53). Hackett holds the world record at 3:34.58 and six of the ten fastest swims over the distance.
In the 50 freestyle, 19-year-old Matthew Targett took out his first national title in 21.96 from former 100-meter world champion Ashley Callus (22.18) and another 19-year-old Eamon Sullivan (22.27). Targett, who leaves tomorrow for the United States where he will take up a swimming scholarship with Auburn, became the sixth fastest Aussie performer with his time of 21.93 in the semifinals.
Leith Brodie was the winner of the 200 I.M. with an impressive swim of 1:57.33 – third fastest Aussie performer.
Veteran Matt Welsh backed-up for two wins taking the 50 back for the seventh consecutive time in 24.42 and then the 50 fly 23.46.
In the final of the 200 breaststroke, Brenton Rickard cruised to first with a clocking of 2:09.16, ahead of the 2:09.80 from Christian Sprenger. Aussie record-holder Jim Piper scratched from the race.
On the women's side, Tay Zimmer won the 200 back in 2:07.07 edging out her world champs team-mate Sophie Edington (PR 2:07.92). Danni Miatke, the gold medalist at World Champs in the long-course 50 fly, just held out the 100-meter World Champ Jessica Schipper in the 50 fly 26.24 to 26.34.
Leisel Jones, who recently set a world record in the long-course format of the 200 breaststroke, zipped to a 1:05.37 effort in the 100 breast semifinals, not far off Tara Kirk’s world record of 1:04.79. There’s a good chance that Jones could lower the global standard in the final, as she’s expected to receive a challenge from Brooke Hanson, who went 1:06.58 in the semifinals.
Hanson prevailed in the championship heat of the 100 individual medley with a time of 1:00.53 and 16-year-old Bronte Barratt took out her first national short-course title in the 400 freestyle, thanks to a PR swim of 4:05.13.