By John Lohn
NEW YORK, December 24. JUST a week remains in 2005, so let’s continue with our analysis of the past year. And, let’s hope that next year is filled with as many highlights as the last 12 months, which brought numerous top-flight moments.
Making Noise: At the World Championships in Montreal in July, there was little doubt that the United States (men and women) and the Australian women would have spectacular showings. But, some credit needs to go to Poland for generating a strong week, which included a sweep of gold in the 200 butterfly.
Leading the way for Poland was Otylia Jedrzejczak, who set a world record in the 200 butterfly and claimed bronze in the 100 fly. Meanwhile, Pawel Korzeniowski was the male winner of the 200 fly and was supported by countryman Bart Kizierowski, who secured a bronze medal in the 50 freestyle. More, the Polish contingent advanced a number of other athletes to championship finals.
Hometown Heroes: With the World Championships held in Montreal, the crowd in Canada was hoping for a few highlights from the local crew. Well, that wasn’t a problem as Brittany Reimer stole the show on an individual basis. Meanwhile, Canada’s men delivered stellar performances in relay action and received a boost from Mike Brown in the 200 breaststroke.
Reimer did her dazzling by taking silver in the 800 freestyle and bronze in the 1,500 free. For good measure, she added a fourth-place performance in the 400 free. As for the male relays, Rick Say and Brent Hayden helped the host nation of the World Champs to silver medals in the 400 and 800 free relays. Adding to the fever was Brown’s silver-medal finish in the 200 breast.
Present, but Absent: Sure, Grant Hackett enjoyed a sterling week at the World Championships, thanks to victories in the 400, 800 (world record) and 1,500 freestyles and a silver medal in the 200 free. But, the competition – as a whole – was disappointing for the Australian men, who sorely missed the talents of Ian Thorpe, who bypassed the meet during a revitalization period following the Athens Olympics.
The Aussie women were outstanding in Montreal, which made the poor showing of the Aussie men even more glaring. Aside from Hackett, the only male individual medal won by Australia was courtesy of the silver from Matt Welsh in the 50 back. Considering the history of the nation, a year similar to 2005 is unacceptable.
Best Scholastic Swim: This call was an easy one to make. When Jessica Hardy zoomed 59.20 in the 100-yard breaststroke while representing Wilson High last May, she didn’t just set a high school record. Hardy also became the first scholastic swimmer to crack the one-minute barrier. That effort, though, was just the start of a banner year as Hardy set a world record of 1:06.20 in the 100-meter breast semifinals at the World Championships. In the final, Hardy grabbed silver behind Australia’s Leisel Jones.