By John Lohn
MONTREAL, Canada, July 28. THE final of the women’s 100 freestyle is shaping up to be a good one. That much was determined during Thursday night’s semifinals when it became clear that no one seems to be a favorite, although Australia’s Jodie Henry should get the nod based on past performances. Henry qualified first for the final, as she won the second semifinal in 54.52.
The world-record holder and Olympic champion in the event, Henry is accounting for a portion of the spectacular week developing for the Australian women. There’s no doubt that the Land of Oz boasts the most potent female squad on the planet, and Henry is handling her role as a top gun with flair. She was followed in qualifying by the Netherlands’ Marleen Veldhuis (54.54).
The United States collected the third and fourth seeds for the championship race, thanks to the efforts of Amanda Weir and Natalie Coughlin. Weir, who had the top time after the preliminaries, checked in at 54.62 while Coughlin, the American-record holder in the two-lap freestyle, was second in her heat with a swim of 54.65.
Filling out the field for Friday’s final were France’s Malia Metella (54.93), Germany’s Daniela Gotz (54.98), Greece’s Nery-Mantey Niangkouara (55.07) and Australia’s Alice Mills (55.13). Just missing the final were a handful of notable names, including Italy’s Federica Pellegrini (10th) and Sweden’s Therese Alshammar (55.64).