By John Lohn
MELBOURNE, Australia, March 27. THERE was a surprise No. 1 qualifier after the preliminary heats of the women's 200 butterfly. Canada's Audrey Lacroix earned the top slot for the evening semifinals by maneuvering through the race in 2:08.12, slightly quicker than the 2:08.38 produced by reigning Olympic champion Otylia Jedrzejczak.
The prelims of the distance fly proved to be a feeling-out process for the world-record holder, Australian Jessicah Schipper. The silver medalist earlier in the week in the 100 butterfly, Schipper was the ninth-fastest performer in the morning, going 2:09.83. But, when it comes time for the big races, a sizable drop in time will be seen.
Schipper and Jedrzejczak have a history at the World Champs, as it was two years ago where controversy surrounded their final in Montreal. While Jedrzejczak touched the wall ahead of Schipper at the 2005 World Champs, video footage showed that the Polish swimmer finished with a one-hand touch and should have suffered a disqualification.
Outside of that controversy, Jedrzejczak has also dealt with some serious personal issues over the last year. She was the driver during an automobile accident in which her brother was killed. Cited for traveling at a high rate of speed, Jedrzejczak had to overcome injuries from the wreck and recently was given a nine-month, suspended sentence by the Polish court system.
The United States' Kim Vandenberg was the third-quickest qualifier with a time of 2:08.63 and was followed by Slovenia's Sara Isakovic (2:08.69) and China's Jiao Liuyang (2:09.33). The next three places were taken by Japan's Yurie Yano (2:09.58), Aussie Felicity Galvez (2:09.67) and Japan's Yuko Nakanishi (2:09.69). American Mary DeScenza was 17th in 2:11.73 and did not make the semifinals.