By John Lohn
Photos by Peter H. Bick
MONTREAL, Canada, July 29. NO debate: Brendan Hansen is the premier breaststroker in the world. Four days after winning the 100-meter breast over his Japanese rival Kosuke Kitajima, Hansen blew away the opposition in the 200 breast on Friday night, winning the event in 2:09.85. The swim marked the second time in his career in which he broke the 2:10 barrier.
The world-record holder at 2:09.04, Hansen gave his global standard a scare, as he was ahead of the pace through the opening three laps. Hansen tired slightly on the final leg, but still produced a sizzling time. The championship is Hansen’s third of an individual variety, as he also won the 200 breast crown during the 2001 World Champs in Fukuoka, Japan, plus the 100 title here.
Hansen touched the wall at the halfway mark in 1:01.29, a superb time on the international scene for the 100-meter distance. While Hansen dazzled with his victory, the Montreal crowd went crazy for the silver-medal showing of Canada’s Mike Brown, who entered the final as the second seed and set a national record with his time of 2:11.22.
Japan’s Genki Imamura collected the bronze medal with a swim of 2:11.54, fast enough to deny Australia’s Jim Piper of a place on the medal podium. Piper was timed in 2:12.42 and was followed by Poland’s Slawomir Kuczko (2:12.44) and Russia’s Grigory Falko (2:12.51). The seventh and eighth positions went to Italy’s Loris Facci (2:12.62) and Kazakhstan’s Vladislav Polyakov (2:12.72).