By John Lohn
MONTREAL, Canada, July 28. THERE’S a chance at a repeat from Athens. The qualifying order of the top three places in the men’s 200-meter backstroke was identical to the medal finishes at last summer’s Olympic Games, with the United States’ Aaron Peirsol leading the way in 1:56.60. The Olympic champ and world-record holder appeared to cruise in the second semifinal.
Austria’s Markus Rogan, who spent his collegiate career at Stanford University, was the second-swiftest qualifier, as he stroked through the four-lap event in 1:57.16. Rogan was the silver medalist in Athens and was followed in the third qualifying position by Romania’s Razvan Florea, who took bronze in Greece. Rogan and Florea both raced in Peirsol’s heat.
American Ryan Lochte won the first semifinal with a swim of 1:58.17 and is slotted fourth for the final while Russia’s Arkady Vyatchanin will enter the championship heat in fifth at 1:58.60. The sixth through eighth slots were taken by Japan’s Tomomi Morita (1:58.70), Croatia’s Gordan Kozulj (1:58.74) and Japan’s Takashi Nakano (1:58.91).