INDIANAPOLIS, October 11. THERE were some very fast medley swimmers in the finals of the men’s 100 IM, a fast, exciting event: Brazil’s Thiago Pereira, South American record-holder in the 200 and 400 IM, and the USA’s Ryan Lochte, 2004 Olympic silver medallist, to name the most prominent.
But these were primarily long course specialists. As the horn sounded and the eight finalists sprang from the blocs, all eyes were on lanes 4 and 5. Germany’s Thomas Rupprath, in lane 4, was the world record-holder at 52.58; on his left was Slovenia’s Peter Mankoc, a giant of a man and the former world record-holder at 52.63.
The entire field stroked the first 25 meters fly as one, but the twin favorites quickly separated themselves from the pack on the backstroke, Rupprath turning in 23.60 and Mankoc 9-hundredths of a second later.
Smelling an upset, the Slovenian emerged ahead after the turn and inched ahead during the breaststroke. At the final turn, Mankoc had a half-body length lead on his German rival.
The two men battled down the final lap, the crowd largely unaware that the world record was in jeopardy. But despite Rupprath’s valiant efforts, Mankoc maintained his margin, touching in a championship record 52.66, the third-fastest time ever. Rupprath followed in 53.35, while Pereira closed out the rest of the field to take third in 53.75.