BY Stphen J. Thomas
BARCELONA, July 20. AMERICAN Jenny Thompson set a new World Championships meet record 58.14 in this morning's prelims breaking Aussie Petria Thomas' mark of 58.27 set in Fukuoka in 2001.
The 30-year-old veteran and former world record-holder said she was pleasantly surprised by her time. JT headed three Europeans, world No. 1, Olympic silver medalist Martina Moravcova; Pole Otylia Jedrzejczak; and Swede Anna-Karin Kammerling; and teammate Natalie Coughlin into the next round.
No surprises in the men's 400 free where Aussies Ian Thorpe and Grant Hackett qualified 1-2 clocking 3:47.44 and 3:48.35, respectively. Look out for rising Russian distance star Yuri Prilukov in the final. He clocked a PR 3:48.49 to qualify third in front of Aussie-based Italian Massi Rosolino (3:49.59). Both American's — Klete Keller (3:49.85) and Chad Carvin (3:50.28) — will also be there for the final tonight.
In the women's race, German distance ace Hannah Stockbauer had a real battle with Team USA's Diana Munz with the lead changing several times before the European touched just ahead in 4:09.78 to 4:09.90. Hungarian Eva Risztov qualified third in 4:10.41 ahead of an excellent swim by Aussie Elka Graham in a PR 4:10.58.
Graham, recently recovered from heart and low blood problems was stood down for health reasons, then reinstated to the team and then found that her coach had be dropped from the team for disciplinary reasons.
American Lindsay Benko also made the final cut with a 4:11.20, as did Canada's Brittany Reimer (4:11.55). World No. 1 this year, Japan's Sachiko Yamada just missed the cut.
Team USA's Ian Crocker was first into the semis in the 50 fly with a fast 23.73 just 0.02 seconds ahead of world record-holder Geoff Huegill and Russian Evgueni Korotychkine. German Thomas Rupprath (23.76) and Ukrainian Andrii Serdinov (23.90) were also under the 24-second mark. Candada's Mike Mintenko qualified eighth but Neil Walker missed the cut in 19th place.
Ukranian Yana Klochkova, the Olympic champion in the 200IM, led the qualifiers with a 2:13.74 ahead of China's Zhou Yafei, 2:13.91. Team USA's Maggie Bowen, the defending world champ, was next in 2:14.88. Her teammate Gabrielle Rose also made it through to the semis in 13th place. Veteran Canadians Marianne Limpert and Liz Warden also will be there tonight.
Japan's Kosuke Kitajima splashed a very hot 1:00.20 to head the qualifiers of the 100 breaststroke with Brit James Gibson (1:00.74) in the same heat also dipping under 1:01. Canada's Morgan Knabe was next in 1:01.19 from Frenchmen Hugues Duboscq (1:01.35) and Aussie Brenton Rickard 1:01.37 (new Australian record). Americans Brendan Hansen (1:01.47) and Ed Moses (1:01.51) will also be in the mix tonight in what should be a real battle for finals spots.
The Aussie girls were fastest qualifiers for the 400 freestyle relay tonight ahead of the Brits and the Dutch.
Team USA qualified sixth while Russia (with Popov to be added) will take the middle lane ahead of USA and France in the men's event. The Aussies scraped into the last spot but will have Thorpe and Callus tonight.