MANCHESTER, England, April 12. NINE world records, along with more than 20 meet and 50 continental records, have been set thus far at the FINA World Short Course Championships. All in just three days time. What will happen during the fourth day of preliminary action?
Women's 50 back
The one-woman wrecking crew was back at it as Zimbabwe's Kirsty Coventry set herself up for another potential world-record performance. She led qualifying into semis with a time of 27.42, crushing her national record of 29.97 set in 2004 as well as breaking the African record of 28.00 set by Charlene Wittstock in 2002.
"The 50m is such a big blur," Coventry told meet organizers. "It's such a fast race – short, fast and speedy. I'm giving it my all to make it back into the semis. I'm feeling really good – a bit sore and a bit tired. It feels like a lot longer than three days (the event) but the crowd has been really amazing."
Ukraine's Kate Zubkova demonstrated some quick speed with a second-seeded time of 27.43. That clipped the national record of 27.44 set by Iryna Amshenikova back in 2006.
Canada's Jennifer Carroll, the 2002 world champion, placed third in 27.54, while Israel's Anna Gostomelsky finished fourth in 27.55.
World-record holder Sanja Jovanovic qualified fifth in 27.63, well off her global standard of 26.50, while China's Gao Chang took sixth in 27.66.
Australia's Belinda Hocking (27.72) and Margaret Hoelzer of the U.S. (27.81) rounded out the top eight.
The rest of the semifinals will include Colombia's Carolina Colorado (27.82), Great Britain's Elizabeth Simmonds (27.83), New Zealand's Liz Coster (27.93), Brazil's Fabiola Molina (27.93), Hong Kong's Sherry Tsai (27.95), Belarus' Alexandra Bas (28.15), Canada's Hanna Kubas (28.26) and Russia's Ksenia Moskvina (28.38).
Men's 100 free
Nathan Adrian of the U.S. cruised in prelims to hold a strong lead going into semis when he clocked a 47.00 for the top seed.
Argentina's Jose Meolans finished second in 47.96, while Great Britain's Benjamin Hockin took third in 48.02.
The Netherlands' Mitja Zastrow placed fourth in 48.03, while South Africa's Shaun Harris qualified fifth in 48.08.
Italy's Filippo Magnini (48.11), Kenya's Jason Dunford (48.19) and Australia's Kirk Palmer (48.21) comprised the rest of the top eight seeds.
The remaining semifinalists are Argentina's Matias Aguilera (48.37), Brazil's Fernando Silva (48.37), Bryan Lundquist of the U.S. (48.42), Australia's Kenrick Monk (48.44), Croatia's Duje Draganja (48.44), Kenya's David Dunford (48.51) and Algeria's Salim Iles (48.54).
"Not too bad, a little tired but you've got to do it," Monk told meet organizers. "I don't know, it's anyone's race really, we just have to wait and see if I get through."
Algeria Nabil Kebbab will compete in another swimoff as he faces off with Russia's Evgeniy Lagunov and Italy's Christian Galenda after matching 16th-place 48.61s.
Kebbab maintained his strong performances in swimoffs when he beat Lagunov, 48.01 to 48.20. Galenda checked out of the swimoff.
The win is Kebbab's second swimoff victory of the meet as he beat Trinidad and Tobago's George Bovell for the first alternate spot in the men's 50 free.
Women's 100 fly
With Inge Dekker pulling out of the women's 100 fly heats due to feeling unwell, the door is wide open for the rest of the contenders as Dekker owned the fastest qualifying time coming into prelims.
National-record holder Lize-Mari Retief of South Africa paced the field with a top-seeded time of 57.51, about a half-second off her standard of 56.98 from the Belo Horizonte World Cup stop from November.
Rachel Komisarz of the U.S. touched second in 57.62, while the Netherlands' Chantal Groots placed third in 58.13 and South Africa's Mandy Loots took fourth in 58.17.
Australia's Felicity Galvez took fifth in 58.35, while Israel's Anna Gostomelsky nearly cleared the Israeli record of 58.63 set by Vered Borochovsky in 2002 with a sixth-place 58.68.
"It was pretty good. I'm saving a little bit of power for the next steps, hopefully both in the 50m back and the 100m fly I will have a good position in the centre of the pool," Gostomelsky told meet organizers. "In the 50m back today I just want to get to the final and I will deal with that tomorrow. In the 100m fly I am just three-tenths of a second away from my pb and I feel I have more to cut off, hopefully I will do it. In the 100m fly, it is very important for me to break the national record and to swim faster than in the back. Oddly, I'm faster in the backstroke."
Great Britain's Jemma Lowe placed seventh in 58.97, while Norway's Ingvild Snildal took eighth in 59.16.
Margaret Hoelzer of the U.S. (59.19), Colombia's Carolina Colorado (59.29) Sweden's Petra Granlund (59.31), Great Britain's Ellen Gandy (59.34), Australia's Samantha Hamill (59.47), China's Hong Wenwen (59.60), Singapore's Li Tao (59.62) and Portugal's Sara Oliveira (59.68) rounded out semifinals.
Men's 100 IM
Ryan Lochte of the U.S. topped qualifying with a time of 53.32, while Great Britain's Liam Tancock secured second in semis with a 53.58. Tancock's time surpassed his own national record of 53.71 set in November.
"I'm just trying to swim fast, if I break a record, it's just a bonus," Tancock told meet organizers. "I'm having a few days off, then I'll start refocusing in the water and start to get ready for the Olympics."
Australia's Leith Brodie finished third in 53.74, while the Netherlands' Robin van Aggele took fourth in 54.36.
Other top eight finishers were Slovenia's Peter Mankoc (54.44), South Africa's Gerhard Zandberg (54.53), Italy's Christian Galenda (54.58) and New Zealand's Dean Kent (54.59).
Other semifinals include Australia's Adam Pine (54.70), New Zealand's Daniel Bell (54.90), China's Qu Jingyu (54.94), Portugal's Diogo Carvalho (55.07), Doug Van Wie of the U.S. (55.17), Croatia's Sasa Impric (55.22), Trinidad and Tobago's George Bovell (55.25) and Philippines' Miguel Molina (55.39).
Women's 50 free
World-record holder Marleen Veldhuis checked in with the top qualifying time of 24.48, just ahead of Jessica Hardy of the U.S. (24.49).
Finland's Hanna-Maria Seppala (24.51), Great Britain's Fran Halsall (24.61) and Australia's Alice Mills (24.69) took third through fifth. Seppala set a national record after previously holding the record with a 24.57 from 2006.
"I feel a lot wiser today than I did yesterday," Halsall told meet organizers when asked about competing on her 18th birthday. "It's nice, last night was amazing, we didn't get in until late last night with drug tests and swim-downs, and so to get in and race this morning and win my heat and that's what I did. I'm very happy with my swim this morning. I got quite a few cards and all of them had shoes on them. I mean, I know I like shoes but everybody bought me cards with shoes on them, it's a bit much, but it's funny."
Poland's Agata Korc (24.77), the Netherlands' Hinkelien Schreuder (24.79) and Belarus' Aliaksandra Herasimenia (24.86) made up the rest of the top eight.
Also competing in the semifinal round, Sweden's Claire Hedenskog (25.04), New Zealand's Hayley Palmer (25.06), South Africa's Lize-Mari Retief (25.13), Caroline Ellis of the U.S. (25.18), Australia's Michelle Engelsman (25.21), Serbia's Miroslava Najdannovski (25.31), Estonia's Jana Kolukanova (25.33) and Great Britain's Amy Smith (25.46).
Women's 200 IM
One of only two world records left from before the turn of the century, Allison Wagner's 2:07.79 in the event is on notice. Wagner set the record while representing the U.S. back on Dec. 5, 1993 in Palma de Mallorca, Spain when she won the first world short course title in the event.
Zimbabwe's Kirsty Coventry will be looking for her third world record of the meet after setting an African standard during prelims with a leading time of 2:08.59. That performance cleared Coventry's 2:08.88 from back in 2004 and puts her in line to take a shot at Wagner's global standard.
Notably, the only other world record standing from before 2000 is Janet Evans' 800 LCM free standard of 8:16.22 set on Aug. 20, 1989 in Tokyo, Japan.
Hannah Miley of Great Britain took down another national record with a second-place 2:09.76. That readout wiped out Susan Rolph's 2:10.60 from way back in 1996.
Spain's Mireia Belmonte finished third with a time of 2:09.86 to smash Tatiana Rouba's national record of 2:12.46 set in 2002, while China's Liu Jing placed fourth in 2:10.63.
"I didn't expect [to break the record], I swam three seconds faster than the record," Belmonte told meet organizers. "I entered the water as the last, as usual. My reaction time is always slow. I started with some bad strokes, but then I made up."
New Zealand's Helen Norfolk whacked two seconds from her national record with a fifth-place 2:10.73. Her previous record had been a 2:12.44 from 2005, while Great Britain's Elizabeth Simmonds wound up sixth in 2:10.80.
China's Li Jiaxing (2:11.52) and Emily Silver of the U.S. (2:11.68) completed the championship final field.
Men's 50 breast
Another world record looks to be on notice heading into semifinals and finals as Oleg Lisogor's 26.17 from 2006 is within striking distance for the field.
Slovenia's Damir Dugonjic hit the pad in 26.90 to slip under Matjaz Markic's national record from December, while South Africa's Cameron van der Burgh finished second in 26.99.
Lisogor, a two-time champ in the event, qualified third in 27.03, while Mark Gangloff of the U.S. took fourth in 27.10.
Norway's Alexander Dale Oen touched in fifth with a time of 27.13, while Italy's Alessandro Terrin placed sixth in 27.14.
"It was OK. I'm a little tired. Good I've almost arrived to the end (of the meet)," Terrin told meet organizers. "It was important to pass this step, I will worry about making to the final in the afternoon (in the Men's 50m Breaststroke semifinals). After the European Championships (long course) I had to compete at the national championship and to focus on qualifying for the Olympics. So I arrived here uncharged in my muscles, even though not lacking motivation. But to win I need my muscles too."
New Zealand's Glenn Snyders (27.21) and Norway's Aleksander Hetland (27.23) claimed seventh and eighth, respectively, with Snyders' time eclipse Paul Kent's national record of 27.31 set back in 1995.
Other semifinalists include the Netherlands' Robin van Aggele (27.27), Ryan Lochte of the U.S. (27.34), Brazil's Felipe Silva (27.36) and Eduardo Fischer (27.39), Great Britain's James Gibson (27.42), Slovenia's Emil Tahirovic (27.46), South Africa's Gerhard Zandberg (27.47) and Ukraine's Igor Borysik (27.48).
Women's 400 free relay
The Netherlands' world record of 3:30.85 may come down this evening as Australia's foursome of Angie Bainbridge, Bronte Barratt, Sally Foster and Kelly Stubbins cruised in prelims with a top-seed time of 3:34.89.
"Everyone wants to be part of a relay," Foster told meet organizers. "It's just so much fun. You have three other people behind you cheering you on, wanting you to do your best. The team backs each other – we all encourage each other."
The U.S. quartet of Mary DeScenza, Caroline Ellis, Erin Reilly and Margaret Hoelzer took second in 3:37.41, while the Netherlands' contingent of Femke Heemskerk, Saskia De Jonge, Jolijn van Valkengoed and Hinkelien Schreuder placed third in 3:38.10. Heemskerk had the fastest leadoff of prelims with a 53.16.
Other championship heat squads will come from Sweden (3:38.14), China (3:44.17), Germany (3:44.84), Great Britain (3:45.01) and South Africa (3:52.77).