By Ian Hanson and Phillip Whitten
Sheffield, England – Australia’s teenage swimming sensation Ian Thorpe has once again confirmed his ranking as the world’s number one middle-distance freestyler with two more World Cup wins in Sheffield, England.
Thorpe, 17, won the 100m and 400m freestyle in a successful opening night for the Telstra Dolphins Australian Swim Team. The brilliant Thorpe had to work a little harder than usual to deny American Chad Carvin in his pet 400m freestyle event. The world short course record holder over 200m freestyle finished in a time of 3:40.94 and overtook pace setter Carvin just after the halfway mark. Thorpe produced his “signature finish” to beat the American by more than a second. Carvin’s 3:42.27 just missed the American record of 3:42.16 he set last November.
“The Thorpedo” juggernaut has been unstoppable during his World Cup campaigns over the past 14 months. His 400m freestyle-winning streak has extended to eight, dating back to Rio de Janeiro in November, 1998.
But trouble struck Thorpe in the 100m freestyle where he had to overcome what he described as a “juvenile error” when his goggles slipped down his face after the start. Compatriot Darren Lange led at the 50 meter mark but Thorpe recovered and powered to victory in 49.38 seconds, ahead of Americans Jarod Schroeder (49.66) and Dan Phillips (49.68), both members of the US National Resident Team. The 28-year-old Lange slipped to fifth in 49.80.
Thorpe said: “It really should not have happened but I am glad it happened now and not at a major meet like the World Championships or Olympic Games.”
American Tom Malchow, who set an American long course record in winning the 200 meter butterfly at the Pan Pacific Championships last August, set a short course American mark in winning his specialty. The 6’8″ Michigan grad clocked 1:53.61, cracking Mel Stewart’s six-year-old mark, and besting Great Britain’s James Hickman (1:53.83), the short course world-record-holder in the process.
Slovakia’s Martina Moravcova was a double winner, touching first in both the 200 meter freestyle (1:55.61), just 3-hundredths ahead of China’s Yang Yu, and in the 200 IM, where her 2:11.65 was two full seconds ahead of America’s Maddy Crippen. Crippen earned a second silver in the 800 free (8:35.97), which was won by Britain’s Rebecca Cooke (8:29.53).
In other events on night one, America’s Lenny Krayzelburg, the world-record-holder, easily bested Australia’s John Watson in the 100m backstroke. Krayzelburg clocked 52.09 to the Aussie’s 53.59.
It was all-USA in the women’s backstroke events as B.J. Bedford took the 50m in 28.05, ahead of Australia’s Dyana Calub, while Lia Oberstar swam away with the 200 in a strong 2:09.66, more than a second ahead of Russian-turned-Spaniard, Nina Zhivanevskaya.
South Africa’s Terance Parkin was a double winner, earning gold in both the 400 IM (4:13.14) and the 200 breaststroke (2:13.51). In the medley, Parkin, who is completely deaf, just out-touched China’s Xie Xufeng.
Britain’s Adam Whitehead won the men’s 50m breaststroke (28.33), ahead of Parkin. Dan Phillips took the 50m fly in 24.32, while James Hickman out-touched China’s Xie to take the 100 IM, 55.4 to 55.49.
South Africa’s Sarah Poewe won top honors in the 100 breast, her 1:07.33 besting Poland’s Alicja Peczak. China’s Ruan Yi took the 100 fly in 59.06 while Britain’s Sue Rolph sprinted into the wall to win the 50 free (25.17)