Welsh Sets Third National Mark At Aussie Short Course Champs

By Ian Hanson

MELBOURNE, Oct. 15. SYDNEY Olympic Games triple medalist Matt Welsh continued his record breaking spree on the final night of the Telstra Australian Short Course Championships in Melbourne with the second fastest time in history in the 100 meter backstroke.

The 23-year-old Melbourne swimmer broke his own Commonwealth and Australian records, clocking 51.18 – just 0.48 outside Neil Walker's world best, set at the World Short Course Championships in Athens earlier this year.

It gave Welsh, from the Surrey Park Club, a total of one world, three Commonwealth and three Australian records and the 50, 100 and 200m backstroke treble.

His major highlight came on Friday night when he smashed Lenny Krayzelburg's world record in the 200 metres backstroke.

Welsh admitted he was pleased not to break Walker's record saying it would give him a goal to shoot for in the future – maybe at the FINA World Cup at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre on December 5,6 and 7.

Australian Swimming is anxiously awaiting the announcement of the USA team, which could well include both Krayzelburg and Walker and a showdown which would pack Melbourne's new aquatic headquarters.

While Welsh and Miami pair Grant Hackett (200 and 800 meter freestyle) and Daniel Kowalski (1500m freestyle) and Olympic sprinter Brett Hawke from Sydney University (Australian record in the 50m freestyle) stood out in the men's events over the four days, it was the Melbourne pair Lori Munz (Carey Aquatic) and Brooke Hanson (Nunawading) who shared the honors in the women's events.

Munz declared "I'm back" after adding the 200m individual medley and the 200m freestyle to her earlier victories in the 100m freestyle and 100m individual medley.

Tonight she clocked a personal best time of 1:57.22 – the second fastest ever by an Australian – in her fourth final of the meet and just three events after her victory in the 200m individual medley.

"To win all four was my goal coming into this meet but I would have been happy just to swim close to my best times – but to win all four was a great confidence booster – I'm back!" declared Munz, who swam so bravely at the Olympic Trials, just eight weeks after an horrific car accident threatened her career.

"I'm now looking forward to the World Cup and next year's World Championship Trials and hopefully the World Championships in Fukuoka."

Hanson, 22, who like Munz is now firmly entrenched in Melbourne after moving from Sydney three years ago, became the first swimmer since Linley Frame in 1992 to win the 50, 100 and 200m breaststroke treble.

The 1994 Commonwealth Games representative, who has only just missed the last two Olympic teams, added the 100m breaststroke in a new Championship record time of 1:07.70 – which followed her two previous PBs of 31.41 in the 50m and 2:25.05 in the 200 metres.

"Knowing I could win the treble really gave me the incentive against the Olympians Tarnee White and Leisel Jones – I wanted it real bad," said Hanson.

"I went close to quitting swimming last week but this has given me the incentive to keep swimming, I'm now determined to kick on for next year's World Championships and I'll seriously consider adding the individual medleys to my program."

Other winners tonight were Daniel Kowalski (1500m freestyle, who clocked 14:41.62 – his fastest time in seven years); Olympic gold medalist Chris Fydler (who won the 100m freestyle for the fifth time, in 48.11); Grant McGregor (who won the 200 IM); Campbelltown's rising star Jim Piper (who added the 200m breaststroke in 2:09.01 to his earlier victory in the 400m IM); Kincumber rookie Kelly Tucker in the the 200m backstroke (who came into the meet happy to be a finalist); Olympic bronze medalist Geoff Huegill (who added the 50m butterly to his 100m victory in the second fastest time by an Australian of 23.27) and Lori Munz's Carey Aquatic teammate Jordana Webb who won the 100m butterfly in 1:00.39 – her first major National title.

The Ken Wood-coached Redcliffe Leagues Lawnton Club in Queensland wrapped up the National Club team title with resounding victories in the women's 4x100m medley relay (Tanya Henderson, Tarnee White, Linda McKenzie and Tanya McDonald) and the men's 4x100m medley relay (Geoff Huegill, Jade Winter, Nicholas Sheerin and Josh Krogh).

Queensland also won the National Interstate team title.

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