By Belinda Dennett
MELBOURNE, Dec. 7. AUSTRALIAN pair Amanda Pascoe and Justin Norris set new Australian records in the 800m freestyle and 200m butterfly respectively, while American swimmers won five events to highlight competition on the first night of finals action at the Telstra World Cup in Melbourne.
Campbelltown's Pascoe broke the Australian record in the 800m freestyle with her time of 8:21.27, which just missed breaking the Commonwealth mark. Great Britain's Rebecca Cooke established the Commonwealth record of 8:21.47 in August this year, but it was broken last week at the US Open by Jamaica's Janelle Atkinson, who clocked 8:20.13. The old Australian record had belonged to three-time Olympian Hayley Lewis for eight years.
In second place was American Rachel Komisarz (8:27.59) and in third place, Australian Charlene Benzie in 8:32.70. Komisarz had earlier won the 50m butterfly final.
Olympic bronze medalist Justin Norris set a new Australian record to win the 200m butterfly in 1:54.43 from Heath Ramsay (1:56.12) and Shane Fielding. Norris was surprised at the record but conceded there was still room for improvement.
Asked what his goals were at next year's World Short Course Championships, Norris said: "I think I will need to find another two seconds to be competitive, but I'm looking forward to the challenge." Last week, Germany's Thomas Rupprath lowered the short course world mark to 1:51.21.
While unable to get on the podium, Daniel Kowalski's return to international swimming after shoulder surgery was as impressive as they come.
After satisfying himself this morning with a solid heat swim which saw him qualify as the second fastest swimmer for the final, Kowalski improved on his time to finish fourth in 3:49.88.
American Olympian Chad Carvin also surprised himself when he took the gold in 3:44.18 from Australian pair Bill Kirby (3:45.09) and Craig Stevens (3:46.84).
In what was a successful night for the USA, Rachel Komisarz took out the women's 50m butterfly in the time of 26.77, just ahead of Australian pair Nicole Irving (26.92) and Melanie Houghton (27.10).
The USA team continued its strong showing with Amanda Beard taking the 100m breaststroke in 1:07.27 ahead of South African Sarah Poewe (1:07.67) and Australia's Brooke Hanson, who had led until the last five metres, third in 1:07.72.
In one of the most fiercely contested events of the night, Australia's Jim Piper became the first to upset the Americans, defeating the highly ranked Ed Moses in the 50m breaststroke. Piper's time of 27.92 was a personal best with Moses second in 27.99 and Canadian Morgan Knabe third in 28.02.
"I've never won a 50 before so it feels awesome," Piper said after the race. "To beat a world class field, especially in the 50m, I feel pretty good."
The USA returned to the top of the podium in the next event with Olympic relay gold medalist Lindsay Benko taking the 100m freestyle in 54.50 ahead of a fast-finishing Elka Graham, who flew home over the last 15 metres to finish second in a personal best time of 54.78. Josefin Lillhage from Sweden was third in 54.85.
Despite the presence of his own personal cheering squad in the stands, Michael Klim could not out-sprint American Jason Lezak who won the 100m freestyle in 47.79. Lezak is undefeated on the 100 in World Cup circuit this year.
Klim and fellow Australian Ashley Callus dead-heated for second in 48.43.
Australia's Jennifer Reilly went close to her best time in winning the 400m individual medley in 4:36.38, well ahead of fellow Australian Megan McMahon (4:41.91) and Canadian Kelly Doody (4:45.16).
Geoff Huegill showed his impressive form in the World Cup series extends further than his preferred buttefly events, in taking the 100m individual medley in a personal best time of 54.98, a time that puts him third fastest on the all-time Australian list.
Fellow Australian Robert Van Der Zant was second in 55.21 with Germany's Jens Kruppa third in 55.58.
"It's a bit of a shock, really. I couldn't ask for anything better than that," Huegill said after the race.
Australian Clementine Stoney put in another solid performance in the 200m backstroke final winning in the time of 2:06.80. Charlene Wittstock from South Africa was second in 2:09.80 with American Lindsay Benko third in 2:10.63.
Australian Matt Welsh had his home crowd behind him when he took out the 50m backstroke in 24.34 ahead of Toni Helbig from Germany (24.78) and American Michael Gilliam and Sebastian Halgasch from Germany, who dead-heated for third in 24.88.
World Cup V
Day One: Dec. 7, 2001
25 meter pool
Men's 400 metres freestyle
1. Chad Carvin (USA) 3:44.18
2. William Kirby (AUS) 3:45.09
3. Craig Stevens (AUS) 3:46.84
Women's 50 metres butterfly
1. Rachel Komisarz (USA) 26.77
2. Nicole Irving (AUS) 26.92
3. Melanie Houghton (AUS) 27.10
Men's 200 metres butterfly
1. Justin Norris (AUS) 1:54.43 NR
2. Heath Ramsay (AUS) 1:56.12
3. Shane Fielding (AUS) 1:57.40
Women's 100 metres breaststroke
1. Amanda Beard (USA) 1:07.27
2. Sarah Poewe (RSA) 1:07.67
3. Brooke Hanson (AUS) 1:07.72
Men's 50 metres breaststroke
1. Jim Piper (AUS) 27.92
2. Ed Moses (USA) 27.99
3. Morgan Knabe (CAN) 28.02
Women's 100 metres freestyle
1. Lindsay Benko (USA) 54.50
2. Elka Graham (AUS) 54.78
3. Josefine Lillhage (SWE) 54.85
Men's 100 metres freestyle
1. Jason Lezak (USA) 47.79
2. Michael Klim (AUS) 48.43
2. Ashley Callus (AUS) 48.43
Women's 400 metres individual medley
1. Jennifer Reilly (AUS) 4:36.38
2. Megan McMahon (AUS) 4:41.91
3. Kelly Doody (CAN) 4:45.16
Men's 100 metres individual medley
1. Geoff Heugill (AUS) 54.98
2. Robert Van Der Zant (AUS) 55.21
3. Jens Kruppa (GER) 55.58
Women's 200 metres backstroke
1. Clementine Stoney (AUS) 2:06.80
2. Charlene Wittstock (RSA) 2:09.80
3. Lindsay Benko (USA) 2:10.63
Men's 50 metres backstroke
1. Matt Welsh (AUS) 24.34
2. Toni Helbig (GER) 24.78
3. Sebastian Halgasch (GER) 24.88
Women's 800 metres freestyle
1. Amanda Pascoe (AUS) 8:21.27 CR
2. Rachel Komisarz (USA) 8.27.59
3. Charlene Benzie (AUS) 8:32.70