INDIANAPOLIS, IN, October 9. NOTES on preliminary heats of Day Three:
Men’s 50 Backstroke
Thomas Rupprath (GER) was the leader of the 100 backstroke at the 50 meter mark last night, and his reservoir of speed carried over to this morning as he is the lead qualifier in the men’s 50 backstroke at 23.93.
He will not be lacking for challengers in the semifinal and final, as 100 winner Aaron Peirsol was second qualifier at 24.19 and world record holder Matthew Welsh third at 24.45.
Eighth in the preliminaries was University of Minnesota’s Adam Mania, representing Poland, at 25.03. Yu Rui (CHN) and Ryan Pini from Papua New Guinea tied for 15th, sharing the last semifinal spot with 25.59.
Women’s 200 Backstroke
In a field full of fresh new faces, Melissa Ingram of New Zealand leads with 2:09.91, the only prelim swim under 2:10.00.
Other newcomers to the international class, Masaki Oikawa (JPN) and Melissa Corfe (RSA), were second and third at :2:10.13 and 2:10.80, respectively.
The most familiar name in the final is Margaret Hoelzer (USA), sixth at 2:11.33. Hoelzer certainly has a distinguished performance pedigree and if in a good point of her preparation should be the favorite this evening. She was an Athens finalist, won silver in the Barcelona World Championships in 2003 and unleashed a devastating final 50 to win this event for Auburn at the 2004 NCAA Championships, spoiling Natalie Coughlin’s attempt to close out an unblemished NCAA Championship career after 11 straight NCAA meet crowns.
It took 2:11.51 to make the final heat, as the two Canadian Elizabeths (Wycliffe and Warden, respectively) were seventh and eighth. American Hayley McGregory, a University of Texas freshman, was ninth at 2:11.62, after leading the final heat through nearly 150 meters.
Men’s 50 Butterfly
Presuming good health, Ian Crocker (USA) is a prohibitive favorite in this event. He is the lead qualifier to the semifinals with 23.07, despite a breakout off the start that was not quite to his standard. Brazil’s Kaio Marcio Almeida chased Crocker in the final heat to touch second overall at 23.50, 0.01 ahead of the reigning long course 50 world champion Matt Welsh (AUS) at :23.51.
Ben Michaelson was the second American at 23.82 (seventh). It took 23.84 for eighth, and Michael Mintenko (CAN) gathered the final semifinal spot with 24.11. 50 freestyle world record holder Fred Bousquet (FRA; Auburn) missed a chance at another swim by finishing .01 behind Mintenko.
This is probably one of the best chances for a world record in the meet, presently held by Australia’s Geoff Huegill at 22.74. Crocker split 22.76 on his way to his 100 world mark at this spring’s NCAA championships.
While he is not swimming quite as well this week as his incredible form at that college meet, his is still in range and motivated for the record. “This morning was OK. I really want to get that record tonight and tomorrow. I’ll be feeling better tonight.”
He also said he prefers short course swimming. “I like the walls and underwater in short course. It’s kind of my specialty.”
And how. Look for a Flash story on SwimInfo.com.
Women’s 100 Breaststroke
So far Australia’s Brooke Hanson, Olympic silver medal winner in this event, is the only woman giving any challenge to Kaitlin Sandeno’s standing as the star of the meet on the women’s side.
Hanson swam 1:06.99 for the only sub-1:07 preliminary performance of the 100 breaststroke. She won the 50 breaststroke and was dominant in the semifinal of the 100 Individual Medley last night. If she can pick up wins in those events she would match Sandeno’s opening night total of three gold medals. Sandeno has the 400 freestyle today to round out her program, while Hanson still has the 4 x 100 medley relay and the 200 IM.
We certainly are not suggesting Hanson is a lock for this event, simply the leader. She has many potential challengers who moved into the semifinal with her, including American world record holders Amanda Beard (200 meters long course) and Tara Kirk (this event) who qualified second and third at 1:07.08 and 1:07.28. Kirk set her world mark of 1:04.79 in winning this event for Stanford at the 2004 NCAA meet.
1:09.23 was required for eighth and 1:11.04 for 16th.
Men’s 400 Freestyle
Takeshi Matsuda of Japan dropped about two seconds from his seed time to lead qualifiers in the 400 freestyle at 3:46.84.
Russia’s Yuri Prilukov, the lead seed into the meet, was in Matsuda’s heat, trailing by 0.99 at the half way mark. He applied steady pressure over the final 200 meters, touching just 0.02 back at 3:46.84.
Prilukov should probably be considered the favorite tonight, but without stars like Thorpe, Hackett and Keller the field is wide open, as only 2.13 seconds separates the entire field, with Joshua Krogh eighth at 3:48.97.
Krogh is joined in the final by Nicholas Sprenger (2:47.16; 3rd), his teammate from Australia’s silver medal 4 x 200 freestyle relay. America also has two members from its winning 800 relay into this final: Chad Carvin, fourth at 3:47.42 and Justin Mortimer fifth at 3:47.46.
Canada’s Rick Say was second to Michael Phelps in the 200 freestyle on the opening night. He would have been a favorite in this event but was a no show this morning. We have not yet learned a reason for his absence.
Men’s 200 Individual Medley
Adam Lucas (AUS) put in another fine performance for an Australian team which has been performing consistently well through the meet. Lucas won the final heat in an event leading 1:58.78. The field is extremely packed as 1:59.52, only .74 out of the lead, was necessary for eighth.
Ryan Lochte (USA) slid into the last qualifying spot. He was second in this event in Athens behind the now-absent Michael Phelps and should be considered the favorite here. Not only did he win Athens silver, but he is seeded nearly a second and a half ahead of the remaining field coming into the meet. Lochte has shown he is swimming well here with two medals already, a bronze in the 200 freestyle and a gold as part of the USA 4 x 200 freestyle relay.
Lochte nearly finessed himself right out of the final, appearing to cruise for about 185 meters, closing about 2/3 of a body length over the last 15 meters to nearly catch the leader in his heat, Robin Francis (GBR) who won silver in the 400 IM last night.
Second qualifier is Brazil’s Thiago Pererira, 1:58.95, who finished fifth in this event in Athens. 400 IM champion Ous Mellouli (TUN) appeared to be in danger of missing the final coming down the last length of the final heat in fourth place, but it was simply a case of the final heat being much faster than the others as Mellouli was both fourth in his heat and fourth overall
Look for Lochte on to prevail with Pererira second and a wide open battle for the final podium position. Lucas, Mellouli and Francis are probably the leading contenders for the last medal.
Women’s 400 Freestyle
Kaitlin Sandeno appears in good position to pick up her fourth gold medal tonight, leading all qualifiers at 4:07.04. She negative split her performance, 2:04.03 followed by 2:03.01.
One of the “feel good” swims of the session was turned in by the versatile American Sara McLarty, who won her heat by nearly five seconds finishing at 4:07.55 to complete the American morning sweep. Only Tanya Hunks (CAN) joined Kaitlin and Sara under 4:10, qualifying in 4;09.91. 800 winner Sachiko Yamada (JPN) slipped into the #8 spot with 4:12.39, keeping 800 bronze winner Melissa Gorman of Australia out of the final by 0.05 seconds.
McLarty is good enough for top five finishes in US national competition in middle distance and distance freestyle, butterfly and both long course individual medleys. But she often hasn’t been good enough for the top two spots at American Trials Class meets. So she remains among great American performers that are world class but not well known outside the US, as others take up the spots on international teams.
Sara even stars in various open water events, winning the women’s side of the RCP Tiburon Mile in San Francisco Bay (Chad Carvin won among men) on September 19, besting this week’s 800 winner Sachiko Yamada (JPN), and even finishing ahead of some rather familiar male names including Justin Mortimer (3rd at US Olympic Trials at 1500), Scott Goldblatt (2000 and 2004 US Olympian for 200 freestyle performances) and a fellow named Klete Keller.
Kalyn Keller chose not to compete here, thus opening a spot for McLarty, who appears to making the most of her opportunity. You go girl!
Men’s 200 Breaststroke
Brendan Hansen (USA) leads qualifiers by over two seconds in his quest to add this event to his 100 victory last night. He swam 2:07.52 (1:02.06), dominating the back half of the race after splitting only the third best 100 meters.
Michael Brown (CAN, 4th; 1:01.69; 2:09.69) and Brenton Rickard (AUS; 2nd; 1:01.91; 2:09.53) were each ahead of Hansen at the 100.
Martin Gustavsson (SWE) tied Rickard for the second qualifying position. Russia’s Andrey Ivanov was the final qualifier at 2:10.22.
Other medal challengers should be Vladislav Polyakov (KAZ), who won bronze in the 100, and longtime Australian 200 specialist, Jim Piper.
American Olympic finalist Scott Usher struggled to 11th at 2:11.33, slower than his long course swims at the US Trials in Long Beach.
A fine field was presented here, with Hansen, Brown, Polyakov, Piper and Usher all in the Athens final.
Women’s 4 x 100 Medley Relay
Two heats swam to secure positions in tonight’s final. The USA and Australia had fine morning efforts in heat two at 3:58.96 and 4:00.58, respectively. As with the men’s 50 butterfly, a world mark is not out of the question in tonight’s final.
Sweden, the world record holder and defending champions at 3:55.78, were third, all the way back at 4:06.01. South Africa picked up the eighth and final spot in the evening at 4:16.12.
The morning swims may bear very little similarity to the evening heat, as at least the Americans and Australians, and probably the Swedes, will make wholesale substitutions to their lineup, possibly even replacing the entire lineup. Thus, the USA squad of Margaret Hoelzer (1:00.63), Amanda Beard (1:06.63), Mary DeScenza (:58.02) and Amanda Weir (:53.68) missed the world record by only three seconds in a morning performance, yet none may be back in finals.
Even more strangely, the Australians will also probably replace their entire squad, including addition of 50 breaststroke champion Brooke Hanson and 100 freestyle favorite Libby Lenton. With Lenton on the anchor it is not a stretch to consider the Australians the favorites to win and even break Sweden’s world mark, without any legs from their Athens record breaking, gold medal squad!
The Swedes will probably improve significantly as well, but this year they do not have the powerful breaststroke leg Emma Igelstrom provided in their record swim. Igelstrom has recently returned to the pool after a time away to battle an eating disorder.