By John Lohn
ASTON, Pennsylvania, August 26. LAST week, we handed out a few awards based on the summer. Well, after checking with the service that tabulates the results for SwimmingWorldMagazine.com, it was discovered that a few awards were not presented. So, without further ado, here are a few more accolades based on the past several months.
Rising Veteran Award: Already well established on the international scene, particularly after the Athens Olympics, Roland Schoeman elevated himself to another level at the World Championships in Montreal. The South African sprinter was nothing short of phenomenal just North of the border, as he collected a pair of gold medals and a silver.
A triple-medalist in Athens, Schoeman opened the World Champs with a world-record performance in the 50-meter butterfly, thanks to a clocking of 22.96. He followed with a gold medal in the 50 free (21.69), producing the second-fastest time in history, and grabbed silver in the 100 free in 48.28. Combined, the efforts made Schoeman the premier sprinter in the world.
A 25-year-old, Schoeman appears to be improving with age and could be in line to challenge the sprint-free world records at next year’s Commonwealth Games. Let’s also hope that Schoeman makes a serious run at the 100 butterfly, consequently adding to the strength of an event that features Ian Crocker and Michael Phelps as its primetime names.
Matching Expectations: It’s not always easy to flourish under intense pressure, but that’s exactly what Kate Ziegler managed to do during her summer. Tabbed as the heir to Janet Evans in American distance swimming on the female side, Ziegler walked away from Montreal with gold-medal performances in the 800 free (8:25.31) and the 1,500 free (16:00.41).
Heading into her senior year at Bishop O’Connell High in Virginia, Ziegler is the third-fastest performer in the history of the metric mile and soon could join Evans as the only swimmers to break the 16-minute barrier in the 1,500 free. As for the 400 free, look for Ziegler to make her international mark in that event as well.
Sweet Revenge: At the Athens Olympics, Brendan Hansen earned a silver medal in the 100 breast, finishing behind Japan’s Kosuke Kitajima. But, in claiming silver, Hansen fell victim to Kitajima’s use of an illegal dolphin kick off the start and turn. Now, that outcome is part of history as Hansen toppled Kitajima at the World Champs.
Blasting the second-fastest time in history, a 59.37 that trailed only his world record (59.30), Hansen cemented his status as the premier breaststroker on the globe. After holding off Kitajima in the 100 distance, Hansen went on to route the field in the 200 breast when he touched the wall in 2:09.85, the sixth-fastest performance in the event’s history.
Hansen and Kitajima account for one of the top rivalries in the sport and the men own 10 of the 12 sub-minute times in the history of the 100 breast, with Hansen boasting the top three times ever produced.
Old Man River Award: How about a round of applause for an elder statesman in the sport. One of the top breaststrokers in the world throughout his career, Germany’s Mark Warnecke proved that age can be just a number, as the 35-year-old captured gold at the World Champs in the 50 breast. By clocking 27.63, Warnecke held off his youthful rivals and bolstered an already distinguished career.