PARIS, Jan. 16. SWIMMING'S version of the battle between the two "World's Fastest Humans" — Ian Thorpe, Australia's triple world record-holder and the Netherlands' Pieter van den Hoogenband, world record- holder in the 100 free and double Olympic champion — will debut this weekend in the City of Light at the World Cup meeting here, when the duo battle each other.
Hoogie and Thorpedo are expected to swim the 50, 100 and 200 meter freestyles (scm) and world records could tumble in each.
The 100 free is the program's opening event while the 50 is towards the end of the first day's races. The 200 free starts Day's 2 action.
Thorpe holds the current global standard in the 200 from a World Cup meet in Berlin in 2000. He also took the measure of his Duch foe at the last long course World Championships two years ago in Fukuoka, defeating him in the 200 free after having lost at Sydney the year previously — where Hoogie also took home the 100 free gold.
Last summer at the Commonwealth Games,Thorpe won the 100-200-400 frees, broke his own wr in the latter and swam history's third-fastest double-century (1:44.73). He also clocked a pr 48.73 100 free.
At almost the same time in Berlin, Hoogie was breaking his 200 national/continental standard from Sydney en route to the European Championships' 200 gold (1:44.89, history's fifth-fastest performance); and also won the 100 free (47.86, just off his wr 47.84 from the Olympics). Hoogie is the only man ever to have broken 48 seconds in the 100m free long course,a nd he's done it three times.
In the current world rankings, Hoogie is tied for sixth in the 50 free (21.76), fastest in the 100 (47.20) and second to Aussie Grant Hackett in the 200 free (1:43.18-1:42.48).
Thorpe is not among the world's Top 10 in any event and finished fifth in his 50m debut in Melbourne last month.
And, in fact, neither man will be considered the favorite in the 50 in Paris. The USA's Jason Lezak, Argentina's Jose Meolans — the 2002 world champion, Sweden's Stefan Nystrand, Britain's Mark Foster and russia's Alex Popov are all more likely to make it to the wall in the all-out sprint ahead of Hoogie, who was a bronze medalist in this event in Sydney in 2000, or Thorpe.
The duo are also expected to also go head-to-head again in the same races at the Berlin World Cup, Jan. 25-26.
SwimInfo will be in Paris to cover this titanic clash between the world's two greatest swimmers (with apologies to Mr. Hackett!).