By John Lohn
BEIJING, China, August 10. HER first race of the preliminaries raised a few eyebrows, as Libby Trickett wasn't overly sharp in the 100 butterfly. The semifinals, however, were a vastly different story. The Australian ace won the first semifinal heat in 57.05 to narrowly earn the top seed for the championship final.
Trickett, swimming Lane 7, demonstrated the power that has made her one of the premier female swimmers in the world. She roared down the last lap, reeling in American Christine Magnuson at the wall. Trickett has been sub-57 and an effort of that ilk could very well be in the cards for the championship heat.
Magnuson, as is her trademark, took the race out quickly and registered an American-record time of 57.08 to nail down the second seed for the final. Magnuson has been one of the fastest-rising stars on the American scene and is now with reach of winning her first Olympic medal. Her swim is also a good sign for the United States' 400 medley relay later in the meet.
Aussie Jessicah Schipper, the world champ in the 200 butterfly, was the third-fastest qualifier, clocking a time of 57.43. She was followed by Singapore's Li Tao, timed in 57.54. Taking the fifth spot was China's Zhou Yafei, who touched in 57.68. The rest of the field for the final is rounded out by Great Britain's Jemma Lowe (57.78), the Netherlands' Inge Dekker (58.20) and Brazil's Gabriella Silva (58.39).