By Stephen J. Thomas
On the eve of the FINA World Cup in Sydney, Ian Thorpe added another accolade to his already overflowing awards cabinet – the 1999 Australian Swimmer of the Year.
The 17-year-old Thorpe, who has already been named Swimming World’s male swimmer of the year for the past 2 years, became the fourth male swimmer in the 10-year history of the awards to take the top prize. He joined Glen Housman (’90), Kieren Perkins (’92, ’93, ’94) and Michael Klim (’97, ’98) as well as Hayley Lewis (’91) and Susie O’Neill (’95,’96) as previous winners.
Thorpe, Grant Hackett and previous winners Klim and O’Neill all emerged contenders in a year which saw Australians establish sixteen world records.
The FINA World Cup in Sydney will see a full contingent of Australia’s best competing tomorrow after many Queensland swimmers choose to compete in their State Open Championships rather than the Hobart leg of the FINA World Cup this week. The notable exception is butterfly swimmer Geoff Huegill who will miss the event. US sprint star Jenny Thompson, who has been training with Gennadi Touretski in Canberra for two weeks, will compete along with dual double Olympic gold medalist Alex Popov. Other Australians on the comeback trail at the meet include Hayley Lewis, Petria Thomas, Daniel Kowalski, Scott Miller and Phil Rogers.