By John Lohn
MONTREAL, Canada, July 27. Day Four of the World Championships kicked off with four preliminary races. Starting with the women’s 50 backstroke, the morning also included heats of the men’s 100 freestyle, women’s 200 butterfly and the men’s 200 individual medley. American Michael Phelps competed in both male events. Here’s a look at how the session unfolded.
Women’s 50 Backstroke
The one-lap dorsal featured five swims under the 29-second mark, including a 28.70 effort from Gao Chang of China. That swim was the top performance of the morning by nearly a quarter of a second, as Japan’s Mai Nakamura turned in the second-fastest time, a 28.92. World-record holder Janine Pietsch of Germany was third in 28.95.
Australia’s Giann Rooney and Germany’s Antje Buschschulte shared the fourth-fastest qualifying mark, as each was caught by the timers in 28.99. Buschschulte is coming off a silver-medal showing in the 100 backstroke, where she finished behind Zimbabwe’s Kirsty Coventry. The New Zealand duo of Elizabeth Coster and Hannah McLean qualified in sixth and seventh with respective times of 29.05 and 29.06.
Austria’s Fabienne Nadarajah produced the eighth-quickest qualifying performance, going 29.14, and Australia’s Sophie Edington was ninth in 29.22. The United States’ Margaret Hoelzer and Jeri Moss failed to advance to the semifinals. Hoelzer was 23rd in 29.71 and Moss checked in at 30.16 for 28th place.
Men’s 100 Freestyle
One of the glamour races in the sport, perhaps the top dog, the 100 freestyle is shaping up to be sizzling when the final is held Thursday night. That much became evident after the morning preliminaries, where 20 men cracked the 50-second mark. Leading the way into the semifinals was Italy’s Filippo Magnini, ranked first in the world. Magnini moved forward with a swim of 48.97.
A pair of medalists in the 200 freestyle secured the second and third-fastest times for the semifinals. South Africa’s Ryk Neethling, who won bronze in the 200 distance, registered a mark of 49.04 while Michael Phelps, who won gold in the 200 free, finished just behind in 49.23. South Africa’s Roland Schoeman equaled Phelps’ time.
Algeria’s Salim Iles was fifth in the morning in 49.28 and Canada’s Brent Hayden (49.29) was sixth. The seventh position was shared by Croatia’s Duje Draganja and Poland’s Lukasz Gasior (49.31). The United States’ Jason Lezak occupied ninth place in 49.34 and France’s Fred Bousquet was 10th with a performance of 49.38.
Women’s 200 Butterfly
Considering the fact that Natalie Coughlin was upset in the 100 backstroke, it’s difficult to suggest that any swimmer is a lock for an event title. That said, Poland’s Otylia Jedrzejczak is pretty darn close to a guarantee in the distance butterfly. The Olympic champion, Jedrzejczak was the top qualifier, turning in a time of 2:09.21. Earlier this week, she earned bronze in the 100 fly.
The gold medalist in the 100 fly, Australia’s Jessicah Schipper picked up the second seed for the semifinals, as she won her heat in 2:09.40, just ahead of the United States’ Mary DeScenza (2:10.59). Japan’s Yurie Yano, in finishing behind Jedrzejczak in the last prelim, was a tad quicker than DeScenza behind a time of 2:10.19.
Australia’s Felicity Galvez (2:10.89) and Italy’s Francesca Segat (2:10.98) were the fifth and sixth qualifiers and Hungary’s Zsuzsanna Jakabos was seventh in an effort of 2:11.14. Italy’s Caterina Giacchetti was eighth (2:11.17) and Germany’s Annika Mehlhorn was ninth (2:11.23). American Emily Mason also advanced to the semifinals, as she took 15th place in 2:12.64.
Men’s 200 Individual Medley
One athlete dipped under two minutes during the morning prelims, and it wasn’t the man who jumps immediately to mind. Hungary’s Laszlo Cseh led qualifying with a time of 1:59.56 and continued to build on his stellar meet. On Tuesday, Cseh won bronze in the 100 backstroke and later in the week is expected to win gold in the 400 individual medley.
Italy’s Alessio Boggiatto picked up the second-fastest qualifying time, going 2:00.24, and Michael Phelps was third with a swim of 2:00.30. Phelps was on cruise control throughout his race, not long after he contested the preliminaries of the 100 freestyle. Phelps owns history’s nine fastest times in the event and should waltz to gold.
American Ryan Lochte, the Olympic silver medalist in the shorter I.M., was fourth in the morning, as he touched the wall in 2:00.51. He was followed by Japan’s Hidemasa Sano (2:00.61) and Lithuania’s Vytautas Janusaitis (2:00.93). Rounding out the top eight heading to the semifinals were Japan’s Jiro Miki (2:02.04) and Russia’s Igor Berezutsky (2:02.30).