ROME, Italy, June 9. ONE night after placing second in the 50 freestyle at the Trofeo Sette Colli Meet in Rome, 40-year-old Dara Torres continued to make waves in her comeback. This time, Torres got the wall first, registering a championship record of 54.61 in the 100 freestyle to claim victory over Sweden's Therese Alshammar. In the 50 free, the women finished in the opposite order. Alshammar went 54.69 in the 100 free.
Torres' efforts this weekend don't simply suggest that she's in a good place during her comeback. The efforts clearly indicate that she'll be a leading contender to qualify for the Beijing Olympic Games when the U.S. Trials are held next year in Omaha. Torres is trying to make her fifth Olympic Team, as she's already represented the United States in 1984, 1988, 1992 and 2000. At next year's Trials, the battle for the American sprint spots in Beijing is shaping up to be a dandy, with the likes of Torres, Natalie Coughlin, Amanda Weir and Kara Lynn Joyce battling it out, among others.
There were a number of other notable swims at the Rome meet, including Italy's Filippo Magnini going 1:47.30 in the 200 freestyle. His countrywomen, Alessia Filippi, was splendid in the 400 individual medley, checking in with a time of 4:37.03. If anyone is to challenge Katie Hoff in the near future, it very well could be Filippi, though Hoff and her 4:32.89 world record currently sit in special territory.
American Randall Bal was quick in the 100 backstroke, managing a meet-record swim of 54.57, plenty quicker than the 55.40 of Great Britain's Liam Tancock. The U.S. also won the female version of the event, thanks to Margaret Hoelzer going 1:01.69, to finish ahead of the 1:02.52 by countrywoman Leila Vaziri, the world-record holder in the 50 back.
In the 800 freestyle, Aussie Grant Hackett showed that he's rapidly regaining his prime form as he set a championship record of 7:49.10. Off his normal skill at the World Championships in Melbourne, there's no doubt Hackett will be a major player in Beijing, where he'll be chasing a third consecutive title in the 1500 freestyle.