BARCELONA, Spain, June 13. THE Barcelona stop on the Mare Nostrum Tour started in grand fashion Wednesday with Sweden's Therese Alshammar setting a world record in the 50-meter butterfly. But, Alshammar's performance wasn't the only solid effort, as Grant Hackett delivered a strong showing in the 400 freestyle.
The world champion in the 50 fly in Melbourne earlier this year, Alshammar clocked in at 25.46 to erase the record of countrywoman Anna-Karin Kammerling, who went 25.57 in 2002. Alshammar, though, didn't limit herself to the one-lap fly, as she also prevailed in the 50 freestyle with a mark of 24.61, easily ahead of the 25.05 of Aussie Sophie Edington, who won the 50 backstroke in 28.60.
Racing the 400 freestyle, Hackett battled with American Peter Vanderkaay throughout the eight-lap discipline and won by a slim margin. Hackett was timed in 3:47.89, a competition record, and barely quicker than the 3:47.93 registered by Vanderkaay. The Club Wolverine star, however, came back and won the 200 freestyle in 1:48.37. The women's 200 free went to Australian Bronte Barratt in a solid 1:59.13.
The winner of the 50 breaststroke in Canet, Tara Kirk once again took first place in the event by touching in 31.09, comfortable ahead of the 31.50 by Jade Edmistone. Kirk was also third in the 200 breast, an event won by Australia's Sally Foster (2:28.73). On the male side, Valeriy Dymo was the 50 breast winner (28.30) and Japan's Kosuke Kitajima, the reigning world champ, was the 200 breast victor in 2:12.82.
Sweden's Stefan Nystrand bested the competition in the 50 freestyle with his mark of 22.18 edging France's Alain Bernard. As for the 200 individual medley events, Stephanie Rice (Australia) and Thiago Pereira (Brazil) won in 2:13.71 and 1:59.47, respectively. Pereira's mark was good for a meet record and further evidence that the South American could be a medal contender in Beijing.
Other winners included Australia's Andrew Lauterstein in the 50 fly (23.81), Aussie Ashley Delaney in the 50 back (25.69), Aussie Felicity Galvez in the women's 200 butterfly (2:08.05), Russia's Nikolay Skvortsov in the men's distance fly (1:57.50) and Japan's Hanae Ito (2:11.25) and Russia's Arkady Vyatchanin (1:59.32) in the 200 backstroke races.