INDIANAPOLIS, October 10. SLOVAKIA’S Martina Moravcova came into the meet as a 14 time individual medalist in short course world championship competition, with 6 golds. Martina’s 100 butterfly semifinal suggests she is a good bet to defend her crown in this event and win her seventh career individual gold.
She leads Americans Rachel Komisarz (:58.20) and 50 butterfly champion Jenny Thompson (:58.56) by a comfortable margin and no one else seeming to offer any challenge.
Thompson is closing out a swimming career in which she spent 17 years representing the USA in international competition. She has already had a fairy tale result in this farewell.
Jenny has won individual gold in the 50 butterfly. She got to touch on another world record in swimming the butterfly leg of the USA 4 x 100 medley relay which broke Sweden’s existing global mark, though they did finish behind the Australian team which set a new mark. And another gold may come later in the evening as she has the opportunity to anchor the favored USA 4 x 100 freestyle relay.
Can she produce a dream ending night to a dream ending meet?
Thompson has two more finals tomorrow, the 50 freestyle (8th) and this 100 butterfly. A win in the 50 would be a huge upset. But she may have a realistic shot at closing out with a win in the 100 fly. It is an event she has won three times and in which she holds the meet record. Her leg on the medley relay was just a tenth of a second or so faster than Moravcova’s flat start semifinal swim.
Moravcova, only three years younger than the thirty-one year old Thompson, must be considered the favorite. And Komisarz, who beat Thompson in the 100 butterfly at the US Olympic Trials, will be difficult to get by as well.
But a win by Thompson in her final race sounds like the kind of exploit worthy of a legend. And make no mistake, Jenny Thompson leaves her competitive career as a sporting legend. We’ll all enjoy watching.
— D. Scott