Peirsol, Benko and US Men’s Medley Relay Set World Marks on Final Day of Short Course World Champs

MOSCOW, April 7. THE USA ended the World Short Course Swimming Championships in Moscow today with a barrage of world records as Aaron Peirsol, Lindsay Benko and the USA men's 4x100m medley relay team provided a spectacular ending for the five day meet

The three world records were not the only highlights on the final day of competition. Australia's Ashley Callus was the upset winner of the men's 100m free, Therese Alshammar won the women's 50m free — twice, Britain's Ja,es Hickman won the 200m butterfly at the Short Course Worlds for the fourth consecutive time, and Australia's Grant Hackett overcame the lingering effects of the flu to win the 1500 meters handily.

Aaron Peirsol, 18, got the record bandwagon rolling when he clocked 1:51.17 in the 200m backtroke, breaking the world record held jointly by Australia's Matt Welsh and Croatia's Gordan Kozulj, both of whom failed to qualify for the final here.

Another Croatian, Marko Strahija took a narrow early lead, turning in 26.36 seconds at the 50, but the young American caught him just as they reached the halfgway point, Peirsol turning in 54.48 to Strahija's 54.55, with the rest of the field about a second back. Peirsol began to open up on the 27-year-old Croatian in the third 50, then kept up the pressure on the final 50 to win by almost twp full seconds, 1:51.17 to 1:53.08.
Slovenia's Blaz Medvesek was third, 1:53.66.

Peirsol split 54.48 – 57.69. By 50s, he swam 26.46, 28.02, 28.16, 28.53.

Lindsay Benko, who already had won the 200m backstroke in 1 championship record 2:04.97, similarly left no doubt as to who was the fastest swimmer in the water, breaking Costa Rica's Claudia Poll's global standard for the women's 200m freestyle with a spectacular 1:54.04, 13-hundredths under the old mark.

Benko, like Peirsol before her, trailed at the 50, splitting 27.26 to the 27.19 posted by China's Xu Yanwei. And like Peirsol, she took command just before the 100 meter mark. At the halfway point it was Benko, 56.14, with Xu (56.35) and defending champion Yang Yu of China third (56.44).

Benko's superior strength began to tell on the back half of the race as she pulled away from her Chinese pursuers, with Yu overtaking Xu for the silver. At the end it was Benko, 1:54.04, followed by Yu in 1:55.34 and Xu in 1:55.63.

Benko was overcome by a mixture of joy and disbelief when she saw her time on the electronic scoreboard.

"I was hoping to win but never expected it," she said. "I am beside myself with joy."
Benko's splits: 56.14 – 57.90. By 50s: 27.26, 28.88, 29.11, 28.79.

The USA brought the meet to a rousing finish with a third world record, breaking the men's 4×100 meter medley relay mark.

The team of Aaron Peirsol, David Denniston, Peter Marshall and Jason Lezak clocked three minutes 29.00 seconds to beat the mark of 3:29.88 set by Australia's Matt Welsh, Phil Rogers, Michael Klim and Chris Fydler at the world championships in Hong Kong three years ago.

Peirsol, who had broken the 200 backstroke world standard earlier in the session, put the US well in front on the first leg with a 52.17 split. In the breaststroke leg, Denniston held on to the lead against hard-challenging Ukrainian Oleg Lisogor, splitting 58.56.

Denis Sylantyev overhauled Marshall (51.93), a backstroker who was swimming the butterfly leg for the US, but Lezak brought the Americans home with the fastest freestyle split of the meet, 46.34.

Australia, which had flyer Geoff Huegill swimming backstroke because backstroke gold medalist Welsh was ill, also bettered the old Australian world mark but their 3:29.35 was only good enough for silver. Russia took bronze in 3:30.21, just ahead of Ukraine.

In perhaps the strangest event of the day, Sweden's Therese Alshammar won the same race twice to claim the gold medal in the women's 50m freestyle, after FINA ordered a reswim due to a problem with one of the starting blocks.

Alshammar's victory the second time round enabled her to repeat her sprint double in the 50 and 100 freestyle she had achieved at the World Short Course Championships in Athens in 2000.

The official appeals jury said the original race should be reswum because of a problem caused by a loose screw in the starting-block in lane two, the lane in which Australia's Sarah Ryan had swum, which caused the block to move.

No problem, said the Swede. Up on the blcoks again, the result was the same. Alshammar clocked
24.16 seconds, a bit slower than the 23.95 she had swum originally.

Britain's Alison Sheppard was second in 24.28, compared with 24.27 first time, and American Tammie Stone finished third in 24.65, compared with her original 24.80. Once again American Haley Cope was fourth.

The win gave Alshammar her fourth gold medal of the Championships and gave Sweden a total of seven.

Britain's James Hickman swam to an unprtecedented fourth straight world short course title in the 200 meter fly.
The personable Brit took the lead from Ukraine's Denis Silantyev, long course world champion in this event in 1998, at the 75 meter mark and just kept moving away while Silantyev eventually faded to fifth

Australia's Justin Norris and Romanoa's Stefan Gherghel, who brought up the rear early on, came storming from behind to take the two minor medals. Hickman finished in 1:53.14 with Norris second in 1:54.07 and Ghergel third in 1:54.16.

Hickman split 54.04 – 59.10. By 50s, he was 25.60, 28.44, 29.23, and 29.87.

Australia's Ashley Callus was the surprise winner of the men's 100 meter freestyle, clocking a Commonwealth record 46.99 to overtake Argentina's Jose Meolans on the final lap. Meolans, who had won the 50 and was going for the sprint double, was second in 47.09, while Salim Iles won Algeria's first-ever world championship medalby finishing third in 47.66, just ahead of defending champion Stefan Nystrand of Sweden.

Meolans set a blistering pace, splitting 22.17 at the 50 — well under the 22.60 Russia's Alex Popov recorded when he set the world mark at 46.74 eight years ago. But the new Argentine national hero didn't quite have enough to get to the wall first, as Callus overtook him in the final five meters.

Jennifer Carroll gave Canada its first title of the meet with an upset victory in the 50 meter backstroke over
the USA's Haley Cope, who won this event at last year's long course championships and who took the 100 meter crown here in Moscow three days ago.

The USA's Diana MacManus, third in the 100 meters, was third again tonight.

Carroll swam a championship record 27.38 to Cope's 27.44 amd MacManus' 27.60. Chinese world record-holder Li Hui could manage only fifth place in 27.78.

The men's 100m IM was "no contest," as Slovenia's Peter
Mankoc ran away with the race. Mankoc clocked 52.90, just 3-tenths off his own world record set earlier this year. Finland's Jani Sievinen was seconbd in 53.78 while Denmark's Jakob Anderson took third in 54.31. No US swimmer made the finals.

Slovakia's indomitable Martina Moravcova picked up another gold medal when she won the 100m fly in 57.04, half a second off her own world record of 56.55.

Kammerling held on to the third spot with a 58.12 effort, edging hard-charging Mary Descenza (58.40) and Rachel Komisarz (58.46) of the US and Israel's Vered Borochovski (58.66).

Ukraine's Oleg Lisogor earned his second gold medal of these championships, taking the 50m breast in a championship record 26.42, just a tad slower than his world mark of 26.20. Jose Couto won Portugal's first medal with a 27.22 silver-medal swim, beating oput Brazil's Eduardo Fischer, 27/26. The USA's Dave Denniston was eighth.

As expected, Grant Hackett picked up his third gold medal, repeating his 2000 victory in the 1500 meters freestyle with a 14:33.94 effort. Not bad for a guy who was bed-ridden with a high fever just five days ago.

Despite the lingering effects of the flu, Hackett took the race out hard, splitting 1:50.31 at the 200, 3:46.10 at the 400 and 7:42.60 at the 800 -- then shifted into cruise control for the win. No one else could match Hackett's blistering pace.

The USA's Chris Thompson found himself four seconds behind at the 200 but only fell back another second-and-a-half in the remaining 1300 meters, to finish second in 14:39.43.

In the scramble for third, Italy's Christian Minotti just touched-out Erik Vendt of the US, 14:45.41 to 14:45.62. Vendt led Minotti for the first 1000 meters, then fell behind his Italian rival. He picked up a full second in a final 100-meter sprint, but wound up 21-hundredths shy of the bronze medal.

Italy's Massi Rosolino, the European record-holder, was never a factor and wound up in 17th place.

Final Medal tally
                        Gold  Silver  Bronze 

Australia                10      7       1 
United States             8      8      10 
Sweden                    7      2       1 
Ukraine                   5      –       2 
China                     3      4       5 
Slovakia                  2      1       – 
Britain                   1      2       3 
Slovenia                  1      2       1 
Finland                   1      1       2 
Argentina                 1      1       1 
Canada                    1      1       1 
Russia                    –      2       5 
Brazil                    –      2       – 
Czech Republic            –      2       – 
Japan                     –      2       – 
South Africa              –      1       – 
Croatia                   –      1       – 
Portugal                  –      1       – 
Denmark                   –      –       2 
Algeria                   –      –       1 
Austria                   –      –       1 
Germany                   –      –       1 
Israel                    –      –       1 
Italy                     –      –       1 
Romania                   –      –       1 
Switzerland               –      –       1 

Day 5 Results

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