By Phillip Whitten
GOSLAR, Germany, December 3. IN the absence of Franzi van Almsick, Thomas Rupprath stole the show at the German Short Course National Championships in Goslar, November 29-31.
Actually, even had van Almsick — Germany's most popular athlete — been present in Goslar, Rupprath still would have been the big story. The SG Beyer star won five events, swimming the world's top time this season in every single one. On top of that, he set a world short course record leading off the Beyer 200m medley relay.
Rupprath won the 50 and 100 back and all three fly events. In the 50 back he swam 23.34 seconds to easily defeat Stev Theloke, just missing the world mark of 23.31 by Australia's Matt Welsh set three months earlier. But he saved a faster swim for the relay, when he led off in 23.23 seconds, breaking Welsh's short-lived record.
In the 100 back, Rupprath sped to a 51.25 clocking, exactly half a second slower than Neil Walker's world mark set in Athens in April 2000.
In the butterfly events, he earned gold in the 50 (23.21), 100 (50.82) and 200m (1:51.88) distances. He won by huge margins of 2.6 seconds in the 100 fly and 5.1 seconds in the 200. His 200 time was just off his own world mark of 1:51.21.
Jens Kruppa, 26, swam to four victories. The SC Riesa veteran won the 50 (27.36) and 100m breast (1:00.00), each time defeating 32 year-old physician and race car driver, Mark Warnecke (27.63 and 1:00.40). He also swam very quick sprint IMs, clocking 54.01 for the 100 and 1:57.87 for the 200.
Jens Kuhlman was the only other man to win more than one event, taking the 200m free in 1:46.51 and coming from behind in the final five meters to nip Philipp Moller, 3:46.26 to 3:46.30, in the 400.
Kamil Kasprowicz, 18, was the only newcomer to win an event here, taking the 200m breast in 2:10.58.
Other men's winners:
Carsten Dehmlow, 50m free, 21.98
Torsten Soannberg, 100m free, 48.66
Sven Wocke, 800m free, 8:02.14
Thomas Lurz, 1500m free, 14:59.48
Stev Theloke, 200m back, 1:56.19
Jochen Hanz, 400m IM, 4:13.94
Annika Mehlhorn won four events, to turn in the top women's performance. The 19 year-old took the 100m fly (59.27), 200m fly (2:08.49), 100m IM (1:01.52) and 200m IM (2:11.96).
Three other women were double gold medalists. Sarah Poewe, 19, a freshman at the University of Georgia and a 2000 South African Olympic finalist, swam in her first meet as a German citizen and won both the 100 (1:07.12) and 200m breaststroke (2:24.94).
Hannah Stockbauer, double world champion last year, took the lead at the 300m mark and breezed to victory in the 800m free in 8:28.15. She used the same tactic in the 400, trailing through 300 meters before uncorking a furious final sprint to win by two seconds over Alessa Ries in 4:06.71.
Antje Buschschulte won the 100 and 200 meter dorsal events, clocking 59.72 and 2:07.32, and winning the double century by 4.6 seconds.
Sandra Volker managed just one gold medal swim to go along with several runner-up performances. In the 50m free, Volker, 28, clocked 24.98, just beating out 18 year-old newcomer Dorothea Brandt (25.06), her teammate on the SG Hamburg team.
Other women's winners:
Petra Dallman, 100m free, 54.19
Alessa Ries, 200m free, 1:57.39 (with Dallman, 1:57.70)
Jana Henke, 29, 1500m free, 16:32.84
Janine Pietsch, 50m back, 28.02
Janne Schafer, 50m breast, 31.19
Nele Hofmann, 50m fly, 27.18
Nicole Hetzer, 400m IM, 4:39.70