By Stephen J. Thomas
PERTH, Australia. Aug. 6. THE fast times kept on rollin' on the fourth day of the Australian Short Championships in Perth.
In a semi-final of the 50 freestyle Great Britain visitor Allison Sheppard lowered her own Commonwealth record set in the morning heats (24.67), taking her time down to 24.51.
Sarah Ryan became the first Australian to go under the 25-second mark in setting a new Australian record of 24.78 behind Sheppard. Ryan a dual Olympian, admitted to having been charged with newly found confidence after her gold medal finish in the 400 medley relay at the World Championships last month. On Sunday night she became the first Australian to go under 54-seconds in the 100 free, clocking 53.47.
Petria Thomas, the long course World Champion over the 100 and 200 fly, was the fastest qualifier in the 50 backstroke, recording a very solid 28.22. This was just 0.04 slower than her morning heat swim which placed her fourth on the Australian all-time list for a stroke for which she is less well known.
Less than half an hour later, Thomas was back in the pool in her 100 fly semi-final lowering her Commonwealth and Australian record by 0.60 finishing in a swift time of 57.73.
Lori Munz recorded 2:10.73 to come within 0.33 of her Commonwealth and Australian record in winning the 200 IM title for the fourth time.
Brooke Hanson took the 100 breast convincingly in a personal best 1:06.95, ahead of the Olympic and long course World Championship silver medalist, Leisel Jones, who also clocked a PB of 1:08.10.
Great Britain dorsal swimmer Katy Sexton recorded the fastest time over the two lap sprint in 28.22 over Aussie Giaan Rooney 28.32.
Matt Welsh (24.13) claimed the 50 backstroke title from his main rival Josh Watson (24.78). His time was slower than his new Commonwealth record of 23.82 set yesterday in the semifinals.
Geoff Huegill, world record holder for the long course event, took out the 50 fly in a new Australian record time of 23.14 eclipsing the previous mark of 23.21 held by rival Michael Klim, who did not contest this event.
Skipping the fly event paid off for Klim when he qualified fastest for the final of the 100 free in 48.55, ahead of the strong field of Todd Pearson (48.60), Bill Kirby (48.80) and Ian Thorpe (48.94).
Rob Van der Zant qualified fastest for the 100 IM in a solid 55.47 from fly specialist Geoff Huegill (55.63).
British breaststrokers James Gibson (27.36) and Darren Mew (27.42) posted the two fastest qualifying times over the 50-meter event from Australian veteran Phil Rogers (27.91). Mew holds the Commonwealth record, 27.32 set last December while Rogers holds the Australian record 27.64 set in 1998.