By John Lohn
MELBOURNE, Australia, March 29. ALWAYS one of the most exciting events on the program, the splash-and-dash preliminaries featured 24 heats, with Poland's Bart Kizierowski securing the No. 1 qualifying time heading into the semifinals of the 50 freestyle. Kizierowski was timed in 22.03, slightly quicker than the 22.06 registered by Australian Eamon Sullivan.
Kizierowski is a veteran in the event, but it's a newcomer to the international scene who is expected to make the biggest waves as we creep closer toward the championship final. Securing the No. 3 seed for the Round of 16, American Cullen Jones popped a mark of 22.09. The reigning Pan Pacific champion, Jones was ranked No. 1 in the world last year.
The NCAA champion two years ago while competing for North Carolina State, Jones is a rising star and could make a run at Gary Hall Jr.'s American record of 21.76, on the books since the 2000 Olympic Trials. The world record is Alex Popov's 21.64 in a time trial in 2000. Jones owns a personal best of 21.84 and earlier this week helped the United States win gold in the 400 free relay.
The fourth and fifth slots for the semifinals were secured by Sweden's Stefan Nystrand and American Ben Wildman-Tobriner, with respective times of 22.12 and 22.20. This year's NCAA champ for Auburn, Cesar Cielo of Brazil, was sixth in 22.25. The defending champion and second-fastest man in history, South Africa's Roland Schoeman went 22.34 for 10th.