By Ian Hanson
SYDNEY, June 6. OLYMPIC stars Ian Thorpe, Michael Klim, Matt Welsh, Grant Hackett, Petria Thomas and Leisel Jones will spearhead Australia's best swimmers into Melbourne next week for the 2nd Telstra Swimming Grand Prix Meet.
The cream of Australia’s swimmers will compete for over $120,000 in prize money over the three-meet Telstra Swimming Grand Prix series, which will see the Dolphins, compete at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre on June 16 and 17.
The series then moves to Brisbane (July 7 and 8) for the farewell meet before the team leaves for the Ninth Fina World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan (July 16-29, 2001).
Giaan Rooney, Leisel Jones, Petria Thomas, Geoff Huegill and Welsh will join Olympic golden boys Thorpe, Hackett, Klim, William Kirby, Todd Pearson and Ashley Callus for two days of full-on competition.
Saturday will see Olympic champion and world record holder Thorpe line up against his arch-rival Hackett while Welsh, Josh Watson and Ray Hass will slug it out over 50m backstroke.
Sunday will see Thorpe take on sprinters, Klim, Pearson, Kirby and Callus in the 100 meters freestyle -the first event on the program, while Klim will go head-to-head with Huegill in the 50m butterfly.
Triple Olympian Hayley Lewis will resume her rivalry with rising star Amanda Pascoe in the women’s 1500m freestyle while Leisel Jones and Tarnee White will take on Victoria’s own Brooke Hanson over 50m breaststroke on Saturday and 200m breaststroke on Sunday.
Swimmers will compete for $800 a win, $400 for second and $200 for third – with prize money and prizes to seventh place in each final. Coaches will also share in the $150,000 prize pool for the first time, with over $28,000 to be shared among the coaches, in a major initiative by Australian Swimming Inc.