By John Lohn
MONTREAL, Canada, July 28. LIKE the men’s 200 breaststroke, the women’s version of the event appears to be locked up. Australia’s Leisel Jones, already the champion in the 100 breast, delivered the fastest qualifying time of the semifinals, as she covered the race in 2:25.30. Jones is a former world-record holder in the event and will chase Amanda Beard’s global standard of 2:22.44 in the final.
When Jones won the 100 breast earlier in the meet, it marked her first crown in Olympic or World Championship action. Now, it seems as if she will make it a double. Jones was followed in qualifying by Germany’s Anne Poleska, who managed a swim of 2:26.22, slightly quicker than the 2:26.85 produced by Austria’s Mirna Jukic (2:26.85).
After barely making the semifinals, claiming the 16th spot in the preliminaries, the United States’ Tara Kirk checked in with the fourth-fastest effort of the evening session, a 2:27.31 that has her positioned for a medal run. Kirk claimed bronze in the 100 breast. Meanwhile, Japan’s Megumi Taneda was fifth in the semifinal round with a time of 2:27.70.
Also advancing to the final were Poland’s Katarzyna Dulian (2:27.96), South Africa’s Suzaan Van Biljon (2:28.09) and the United States’ Kristen Caverly (2:28.82). Beard, the Olympic champion, decided to bypass the U.S. Trials and has been capitalizing on her marketability through endorsement opportunities.