By John Lohn
MONTREAL, Canada, July 26. THERE were four preliminaries held on the third morning of the World Championships. Here’s a recap of the action in the men’s 50 breaststroke, men’s 200 butterfly, the women’s 200 freestyle and the men’s 800 freestyle.
Men’s 50 Breaststroke
Missing the final of the 100 breast, American Mark Gangloff dropped the hammer in the prelims of the one-lap breast, as he registered the fastest qualifying mark with a splendid swim of 27.49. Gangloff was easily the swiftest man in the morning and was followed by Great Britain’s James Gibson (27.73) and France’s Hugues Duboscq (27.79). Gibson is the defending champ and Duboscq won bronze in the 100 distance on Monday night.
The biggest surprise from the event was the failure of the Ukraine’s Oleg Lisogor to qualify for the semifinals. The world-record holder (27.18), Lisogor looked sluggish and only managed a time of 28.18, good for 18th place. The result was startling, particularly considering that Lisogor was fourth in the 100 breast and had gone 1:00.06 in the semifinals of that event.
Mark Warnecke, the 35-year-old veteran from Germany, had the fourth-fastest swim of the morning (27.80) and was followed by the Slovenian duo of Emil Tahirovic (27.81) and Matjaz Markic (27.93). The top eight was rounded out by Switzerland’s Remo Luetolf (27.95) and Sweden’s Martin Gustavsson (28.00). Japan’s Kosuke Kitajima was ninth in 28.03.
Men’s 200 Butterfly
This event might be the most wide open on the men’s docket, thanks to the decision of Michael Phelps to bypass the race. In altering his schedule, Phelps decided to forego the distance fly, where he is the two-time defending champ and Olympic titlist. With Phelps out of the picture, six or seven swimmers have a chance to win gold.
Japan’s Ryuichi Shibata qualified first with a time of 1:56.60 and was one of three swimmers to go under 1:57 for the morning. Australia’s Travis Nederpelt (1:56.91) and Poland’s Pawel Korzeniowski (1:56.93) also accomplished the feat. They were followed in the fourth slot by the United States’ Davis Tarwater, who touched the wall in 1:57.17.
China’s Wu Peng (1:57.44) was fifth after the prelims and the Russian pair of Nikolay Skvortsov (1:57.47) and Anatoly Polyakov (1:57.57) checked in at sixth and seventh. The eighth position was occupied by Greece’s Ioannis Drymonakos (1:57.82). American Michael Raab recorded a time of 1:59.38, but finished 17th and did not advance to the semifinals.
Women’s 200 Freestyle
Fresh off an American record and gold-medal performance in the 200 individual medley, Katie Hoff proved she is rapidly rising in the 200 freestyle. The 16-year-old from the North Baltimore Aquatic Club had the second-fastest qualifying time, a comfortable 1:59.28 that trailed only Italy’s Federica Pellegrini (1:59.12). The swim was a personal best for Hoff.
The overwhelming favorite in the 400 I.M. later this week, Hoff immediately vaulted herself into medal contention with her morning effort and could be in the chase for gold. Simply, Hoff is becoming the female face of American swimming. She was followed in third for the semifinals by Australia’s Linda Mackenzie (1:59.32) and China’s Yu Yang (1:59.72) was fourth.
Taking the fifth spot for the semifinals was France’s Solenne Figues (1:59.75) and sixth was secured by the United States’ Whitney Myers in 1:59.83. Rounding out the top eight were Sara Isakovic of Slovenia (1:59.88) and Sweden’s Josefin Lillhage (1:59.90). Romania’s Camelia Potec, the Olympic champ, was 10th in 2:00.11.
Men’s 800 Freestyle
When the final of this event is held on Wednesday night, Australia’s Grant Hackett will take dead aim at the world record of 7:39.16, set in 2001 by Ian Thorpe. Hackett had the fastest qualifying time, a 7:47.62 effort that was enough to hold off the United States’ Larsen Jensen (7:48.89). The American wasn’t far off his national record of 7:48.09.
The silver-medal winner earlier in the week in the 400 free, Yuri Prilukov posted the third-fastest morning swim as he covered the 16-lap event in 7:51.75, ahead of the 7:51.92 of Great Britain’s David Davies. At last summer’s Olympic Games, Davies was the bronze medalist in the 1,500 free. France’s Sebastien Rouault was fifth in 7:52.04.
Finishing out the field for the final were Tunisia’s Ous Mellouli (7:52.55) and Poland’s Przemyslaw Stanczyk (7:52.56) and Lukasz Drzewinski (7:53.33). Italy’s Massi Rosolino, a medal contender heading into the week, finished 15th with a time of 7:59.60. The United States’ Chris Thompson was 20th in 8:04.67.