By John Lohn
MONTREAL, Canada, July 27. THE world record in the men’s 100 freestyle has less than 24 hours to live. Well, that’s the way things look after the swim of South Africa’s Roland Schoeman during the first semifinal on Wednesday night. Well under record pace at the 50-meter mark, Schoeman shut it down heading into the wall, but still posted the fastest time in the world this year. Schoeman was timed in 48.45, just ahead of his countryman, Ryk Neethling (48.54).
Although the event features a strong field, it is missing a pair of staples in the Netherlands Pieter van den Hoogenband and Australia’s Ian Thorpe. The world-record holder, van den Hoogenband is recovering from hernia surgery. As for Thorpe, a six-time world champ on an individual basis, he is taking the year off from major competition. Van den Hoogenband’s world record sits at 47.84.
In the second semifinal, Italy’s Filippo Magnini bested the field, as he turned in a mark of 48.73, faster than the 48.88 of Croatia’s Duje Draganja. The United States’ Michael Phelps and Jason Lezak qualified for the championship final in fifth and sixth positions. Phelps came on strong during the last half of his race and recorded a personal-best time of 48.93. Lezak, meanwhile, checked in at 49.03. Lezak is the American-record holder at 48.17.
Taking the final two berths in the final were Canada’s Brent Hayden (49.05) and France’s Amaury Leveaux (49.19). The other Frenchman, Fred Bousquet, just missed advancing to the final, as he placed ninth in 49.21. Others failing to reach the final included Australia’s Michael Klim (49.32) and Algeria’s Salim Iles (49.51).