By Stephen J. Thomas
BARCELONA, July 26. GERMAN Thomas Rupprath swam a hot heat in the 50m backstroke to smash his own CR by 0.12 seconds in 25.19, just 0.20 short of American Lenny Krazelburg’s world mark of 24.99 to highlight this morning's action in Barcelona.
Men’s 50m backstroke
Rupprath’s teammate Steffen Driesen, bronze medalist in the 100 in Fukuoka, was next best with a PR 25.48 (8th all-time performer). American Randall Bal, the title holder in this event, was third into the next round (25.53). He is determined to make amends for his DQ in the two-lap race. Aussie Matt Welsh was also fast, clocking 25.60, and Spanish hope David Ortega will be there tonight.
Dual gold medalist in the 100-200, American Aaron Peirsol qualified sixth (25.76) ahead of Russia's fast-rising young star, Arkady Vyatchanin (25.85).
Men’s 1500m freestyle
Distance king, Aussie Grant Hackett, stroked a very impressive heat swim of 15:08.79 to be fastest qualifier for tomorrow night.
Given that Hackett has already swum the 400 free (silver) 200 free (bronze), 800 free relay (gold), 800 free (gold) this guy deserves a few more votes in the "greatest male swimmer" poll at SwimInfo!
If today’s splits are any indication no one will get near Hackett in the final. The 22-year-old just cruised through his heat; at the 800m he was fifth best among the ultimate qualifiers (8:08.04), but then he picked up the pace around the 1250m mark to finish ahead of the pack which included Great Britain’s Graeme Smith (15:12.74), the silver medalist behind Hackett from Fukuoka; American Erik Vendt (15:13.41); Rookie British teenager, David Davies (15:13.93); Ukrainian Igor Chervynskyi (15:14.01); Christian Minotti, silver medalist from ’02 Euros (15:14.84).
America’s other hope, teen Larsen Jensen, let himself fall way behind the pace in the first half of his race — by far, the slowest qualifier at the 800m (8:13.66) — but came home strongly to take seventh spot in 15:15.63 with another teen, Poland's Pawel Korzeniowski, rounding up the final spot (15:16.07).
The big surprise was the failure of European champ, Russian Yuri Prilukov to qualify – 10th in 15:17.26.
Women’s 50m freestyle
Thirty-one year-old Alison Sheppard of Great Britain (25.16) edged out title-holder and world record-holder Inge de Bruijn (25.26) as fastest qualifier for the on lap dash this morning.
Most of the favorites were through to the next round. Americans Jenny Thompson (25.27) and Hayley Cope (25.56), Aussies Alice Mills (25.32) and Libby Lenton (25.76), Holland’s Marleen Veldhuis (25.43), Therese Alshammar, silver medalist from ’01, and Finn Hanna-Maria Seppala, gold medalist in the 100 free, both clocked 25.46.
Slovakia’s Moravcova (25.72), Sweden’s Kammerling (25.79) and German veteran Sandra Volker (25.69), bronze medalist in Fukuoka, were all in the mix. However China’s Wu Binan and Zhu Yingwen both missed the cut.
Women’s 50m breaststroke
World record-holder Zoe Baker from Great Britain was best this morning in a quick 31.10, with Aussie Brooke Hanson next in a NR 31.24, breaking the old record held by Leisel Jones of 31.50. Chinese title-holder Luo Xuejuan was next in 31.49, ahead of the silver medalist in ’01, American Kristy Kowal (31.80) and teammate Tara Kirk (31.81).
Also under 32-seconds were Canadian Rhiannon Leier (31.96), German Sarah Poewe (31.96) and Russian Elena Bogomazova (31.99). The 100m world record holder, Aussie Leisel Jones (32.18) and Swede Emma Egelstrom (32.11) will also be there tonight.
Women’s 400 Medley Relay
The USA qualified fastest and should be hard to beat, even without Natalie Coughlin. The Aussies, Chinese and Brits should fight for the minor medals.