By Stephen J. Thomas
SYDNEY, March 26. TRIPLE world record-holder, Ian Thorpe, was considered by most to be the hot favorite for the two-lap dash tonight, as most reports emanating from the Thorpedo’s camp in recent months suggested that he had been working hard on his sprint work and expectations were high he would win well and go under his 48.73 PR.
Men’s 100m freestyle:
However, in swimming as in life, nothing is certain, and world short course champ Ashley Callus had different ideas. Callus the 24-year-old Queenslander had splashed to a PR 48.92 at his state champs in January despite having struggled for much of the last eight months with a ‘mystery’ virus thought to have been picked up along with several others on the team that competed in Moscow last April.
Callus was a comfortable leader at the 50, splitting 23.43, with Todd Pearson second in 23.95, and Thorpe 23.99. At the 75-meter mark, Callus looked to have the race in the bag. He took a breath to his right and saw the ominous shape of Thorpe’s black body suit looming and from that moment he began to struggle. At the wall it looked as if Callus had just held on but, in fact, the two had touched the pads in the same time 49.07 – a dead-heat – the first in the history of the event. Olympic gold medalist Todd Pearson held on for the third in 49.80 well in advance of 21-year-old Casey Flouch (PR 50.20). Adam Pine was next to the wall (50.32) ahead of distance king Grant Hackett, who failed to break the 50-second mark, to clock 50.32 just 0.01 outside his PR from this meet last year.
Callus was pleased with the result, as he had finished runner-up to Thorpe in this race for the past two years as well as finishing second to him in Manchester and Yokohama in 2002.
"To be honest finishing second sucks, especially when you’re leading the whole way. I hit the wall and there was a slight delay, I thought: 'please, please just give it to me this time.'"
Thorpe was philosophical about his performance, admitting that he went out slower than he should have. This is reflected in that tonight he split 23.99 (49.07) compared with 23.81 (49.71) in his semi-final.
"I had a good race and a lucky touch when you look at the results. I’m relatively happy with the swim. Looking back, there are a few areas I can improve for the next competition," said Thorpe after his race.
Men’s 200m breaststroke:
Pan Pac silver medalist Jim Piper kept archrival Regan Harrison at bay in a two-way struggle to take gold and his second consecutive title in this event. The 21-year-old Piper clocked 2:12.00, which was well outside his winning time last year, when he set an Australian record 2:10.88. The AIS based Harrison was always in the race but couldn’t close on Piper touching in 2:12.59. Mark Riley swam another PR 2:15.45 to take his second breaststroke medal of the meet.
Women’s 200m butterfly:
In her absence of world champion Petria Thomas, 18-year-old Sydneysider Felicity Galvez took her chance in an inexperienced field to win her first national title. Galvez moved to the front in the third lap and fought off a challenge from Jessicah Schipper, the silver medalist in the 100 fly, to take the race in a PR 2:10.69 (4th best all-time Aussie performer). Sixteen-year-old Schipper is one to watch having slashed just over one-second off her previous best to touch in 2:10.90 and move to 6th best all-time Aussie performer. Lara Davenport, 19, took the bronze in 2:11.44 (9th fastest Aussie performer). Petria Thomas clocked 2:09.38 in the heats yesterday before pulling out to rest her shoulder.
Women’s 50m backstroke:
Giaan Rooney took her second dorsal title of the meet tonight with a solid 29.04 after her 100 win earlier in the week, but she was short of her PR 28.96 (which stands at 13th all-time globally). Eighteen-year-old Sophie Edington clocked another PR to take silver in 29.24 and 3rd best Aussie all-time. Sixteen-year-old West Aussie Nicole Seah (29.92) snatched the bronze by 0.03 from another 16-year-old Victorian Rachel Goh (29.95).
Men’s 200m IM:
Swimming the semi-final just a short while after his 100 freestyle final, Ian Thorpe still managed to cut just over a second off his previous best set earlier this month to clock 2:02.59. Thorpe was fastest qualifier for the final ahead of title-holder Justin Norris 2:03.25, Adam Lucas (2:03.46) and Rob van Der Zant (2:03.81).
The fastest semi-final time actually went to Olympic champion in this event, Italian visitor Massi Rosolino. The 24-year-old Rosolino, who has been training in Melbourne with Ian Pope, swam a fast 1:59.94, which was significantly faster than his best in 2002.
Women’s 100m freestyle:
Pan Pac silver medalist Jodie Henry led a fast field into tomorrow night’s final. Henry showed she was ready to kick butt with a fast 55.00 ahead of her 16-year-old training partner Alice Mills who took 0.38 off her previous best from the Commonwealth Games to clock 55.15 and 4th fastest all-time Aussie.
Queensland newcomer Libby Lenton slashed 0.62 off her best from the Queensland champs in January to clock 55.36 (5th fastest Aussie). Also in the final will be 26-year-old dual Olympian Sarah Ryan (55.47) and Elka Graham, winner of the 200-400 free double 56.47.
Women’s 200m breaststroke:
Leisel Jones was again in hot form tonight, clocking a very fast 2:26.00 and was under world-record pace for the first two laps. Her splits tonight: 32.49, 1:09.65, 1:47.89, 2:26.00.
Jones should give the Australian record, held by Rebecca Brown at 2:24.76, a nudge tomorrow night.
Kelli Waite 2:30.93
Brooke Hanson 2:31.04
Sarah Kasoulis 2:32.05
Amanda Lee 2:34.35
Men’s 200m backstroke:
Pan Pac silver medalist, Matt Welsh, was easily first through to the final in 2:00.92. Ray Hass, the man that beat Welsh in the final last year and then suffered an elbow injury and missed the entire international season was next in 2:02.39. Hass, 25, had not swum a competitive 200 backstroke since the final last year was please to post a reasonable time. Then followed Patrick Murphy 2:02.53, Ethan Rolff 2:02.69 and Josh Watson 2:03.09.