INDIANAPOLIS, October 9. WITH short course world record-holder Grant Hackett, long course world record-holder Ian Thorpe and American record-holder giving this meet a bye, the men's 400 free was a wide open contest.
Competitive swimming, like political power, abhors a vaccuum, but the question was: Who would step up to fill the void left by the absence of these three esteemed gentlemen?
The answer was not long in coming.
Russia's Yuri Prilukov trailed another swimmer only for the first 50 meters of this race, and then by only one-hundredth of a second at the 50-meter turn. Utilizing powerful, efficient turns, he split 52.98 at the 100 — three-tenths ahead of Kvetoslav Svoboda of the Czech Republic, the early leader.
The 20 year-old Russian extended that lead to eight-tenths with his 1:49.14 at the 200, as US veteran Chad Carvin took over the second spot. The lead grew to 1.3 seconds at 300 meters.
Prilukov and Carvin kept pulling away, but in the final 100 meters Svoboda faltered and was overtaken by the USA's Justin Mortimer with one lap to go.
At the wall it was Prilukov in 3:40.79, followed by Carvin in 3:43.77. Mortimer took the bronze in 3:44.70, 13-hundredths in front of Svoboda.
After the race, Prilukov simply noted that he's gone faster in the past. Carvin, who said he was "happy with a silver," admitted: "I just wish I could've stayed with the Russian, but the pace was just a little too heavy for me."
Mortimer commented: "It felt great. This was my first individua medal here…and I just wanted to go out strong and stay with the pack and finish as strong as I could."