By Ian Hanson
MELBOURNE, October 13. AUSTRALIA's
triple Olympic medalist Matt Welsh tonight smashed the world record in the 200 meter backstroke on the second night of competition at the Telstra Australian Short Course Championships at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre.
Welsh, silver medalist in the 100m backstroke and bronze in the 200 behind the USA's Lenny Krayzelburg at the Sydney Olympics three weeks ago, smashed Krayzelburg's world mark with a time of 1 minute 51.62 (splits: 26.33 and 54.47) — .81 under the previous record set by the US Olympic champion in a Berlin World Cup meet earlier this year.
Welsh has now emerged as Australia's greatest ever backstroke swimmer over the past month.
He now holds the Commonwealth records for the 50, 100 and 200 metres backstroke (short course) and the 50 and 200 metres backstroke (long course) and all six Australian short course and long course records.
The 23-year-old from Surrey Park in Melbourne gave his home town crowd plenty to cheer about when he turned at the 50 and 100m marks under Krayzelburg's world record pace.
After the race, Welsh admitted he was "stunned" when he looked up at the time and said it was Krayzelburg – the world's backstroke king – who spurred him on.
"I wondered during the race about where Lenny would be if he was here and thought, he must be in front of me and I pictured that for the whole race," said Welsh.
"At the finish I heard the crowd roar and thought it must be because I won by a fair way but then I saw the time and thought wow, that must be a world record.
"Lenny has been an inspiration and I hope he comes to Melbourne for the FINA World Cup meet in December."
Other eye-catching swims came from Olympian Brett Hawke who smashed his own Australian record in the 50 metres freestyle with a time of 21.69; rookie Stephen Penfold (a training partner of Grant Hackett and Daniel Kowalski), who won the 400m freestyle in 3:44.18; Geoff Huegill, who won his first Australian Open Short Course championship in the 100m butterfly in 51.91; Lori Munz, who won the 100m freestyle in 54.32 and Brooke Hanson, who won the 200 meter breaststroke in 2:25.01 – her first national title in this event since 1994.