By John Lohn
MELBOURNE, Australia, March 30. A day before the Big Show, Ian Crocker and Michael Phelps had a test run in the 100 butterfly. Next to one another in the second semifinal, Crocker came out on top with a time of 51.41 while Phelps finished third in the heat and took the fourth slot for the final with a time of 51.92. Both men undoubtedly will crank it up a notch tomorrow.
The two-time defending world champ and world-record holder, Crocker followed his normal strategy and pushed the front half of the race en route to the top seed. As for Phelps, who was edged by South Africa's Lyndon Ferns (51.90), he held back in the early portion of the race and picked up the tempo in the final lap. Still, he seemed to be in cruise control.
"I don't read crystal balls, but it is going to be an exciting final," Crocker said. "Michael is having a great meet and I just can't wait to get out of the box. It is an interesting place to be in, the one to try to stop the giants."
The second position for the championship final was secured by Venezuela's Albert Subirats, the University of Arizona standout who recently NCAA crowns in the 100 fly and 100 backstroke. Subirats clocked in at 51.81 and will be in a battle for the bronze medal with Ferns and reigning Olympic bronze medalist Andriy Serdinov (52.11) of the Ukraine. Michael Cavic (Serbia) was sixth in 52.16.
Check back for an updated story on this event as our team of Senior Writer John Lohn and CEO Brent Rutemiller, on the scene at Rod Laver Arena, provide in-depth coverage, along with radio and TV segments.