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Short Course World Championships, Day Five Prelims: All Events -- October 10, 2004 Aaron Peirsol

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, October 11. The following are notes on the preliminary events of day five of the 7th FINA World Short Course Swimming Championships, October 7-11, 2004 in Indianapolis, Indiana:

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Men’s 200 Backstroke

Aaron Peirsol (USA) is back in his comfort zone. In the last several years, when the race goes beyond a 50 Aaron is THE MAN, and that has not changed. He leads all qualifiers this morning at 1:53.80.

Aaron has swum very well here, at least in the shorter races we’ve seen so far. If his form carries to the 200, we may see him challenge is own world record. He won the 100 here in :50.72. At the 2002 championships in Moscow he was :51.71 in the 100 and set the 200 meet record at 1:51.17, which was the world record at the time. He lowered that mark to 1:50.64 at this spring’s NCAA representing Texas.

Matt Welsh (AUS) was in Aaron’s heat and rode on his hip for the duration, trailing, at each 50 turn, by 0.24, 0.54, 0.66 and, finally, 0.62, as he finished in 1:54.42.

American Bryce Hunt won his heat at 1:55.26 and stands third.

It took 1:57.15 to qualify for another chance to swim. Lucas Salatta of Brazil earned that spot.


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Women’s 200 Breaststroke

Austria’s Mirna Jukic rode her exquisitely long stroke to a 2:23.76 morning swim to lead an excellent field into tonight’s final.

After Australia swept the 50 and 100 breaststrokes with the Hanson-Edmistone duo, they broke out another top breaststroker with medal potential at the 200 distance. Sara Katsoulis was neck and neck with Jukic throughout the final heat and finished second overall at 2;24.12.

Brooke Hanson is third (2:26.37) and has a chance to extend her all time short course world championships record of 4 individual golds, not forgetting her fifth gold on Australia’s world record setting medley relay. After winning the 50 breast, 100 IM, and 100 breast, she demonstrated her ability to extend to 200 meters by winning the 200 IM last night.

A couple of Americans with pretty good histories at 200 meters stand fourth and fifth. Olympic champion Amanda Beard won the first seeded heat (2:26.56) over Kristy Kowal, 2:27.01. Kowal was Olympic silver medalist in this event in Sydney.

We understand Kowal is among the set of female American greats calling it a career after the meet. Thompson, Benko, McClarty, Kowal and others. They will be missed. Thanks.


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Men’s 200 Butterfly

Russia’s Nikolay Skvortsov swam 1:54.84, for the top spot. He was quite direct in comments to the press thereafter, which many others who have swum 200 meters butterfly might also have said. “It was very hard. I’m not feeling good.” We’ll see if he feels more positively if he continues to hold the top spot tonight!

Michael Raab (USA) was second at 1:55.05 and gave a significantly different response to the media. “It was great; I couldn’t ask to feel better for the last day of the meet.”

Third is simply the four time defending champion. James Hickman (GBR) holds the meet record and golds from 1997, 1999, 2000 and 2002. The former world record holder had 1:55.11.

China’s Wu Peng is also in range of the leaders, touching at 1:55.15. He may have impacted his ability to challenge in this race, however, by swimming :15:28.03 in an afternoon heat of the 1500.

Another interesting challenger is Ioan Gherghel (ROM; 7th; 1:56.17) who won this event for Alabama at the NCAA level. If he is near the leaders at the 100, Gherghel will be worth watching as he known for particularly strong back half.

Aussie Andrew Richards grabbed the last spot in the final at 1:57.40.

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Women’s 200 Freestyle

Josefin Lillhage of Sweden has been consistently outstanding through the week. She was 1:55+ for Sweden in the 4 x 200 relay and won a silver medal in the 100 freestyle. She leads the 200 free qualifiers at 1:58.07.

Lindsay Benko (USA) is second at 1:58.60. Much has been made of Jenny Thompson’s career closing meet and the “fairy tale” of winning world golds in her last meet.

Lindsay is also in her last meet, and it could be even more magical if she can pull out a win. Her hometown is just down the road, – Elkhart, Indiana. The stands have been packed with her supporters. She is the defending champion and world record holder in this event. She is also swimming well this week, also having a 1:55+ split on the 4 x 200 relay. After what had to be discouraging meets in Long Beach and Athens, a world championship win “down home in Indiana” would certainly make a special memory.

Dana Vollmer (USA) stands third at 1:58.86. The seventeen year old Texan has been remarkably consistent this year, from her US Trials victory to improvements in each Athens swim, both individually and in the victorious relay. If you don’t believe in fairy tales, Vollmer may be the best bet tonight.

Australian Shayne Reese was also under two minutes at 1:59.17 and stands fourth.

Pang Jiaying (CHN) earned eighth at 2:00.51.

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Men’s 4 x 100 Medley Relay

Russia leads qualifiers at 3:34.61. The USA is second at 3:34.78, with Australia 3:35.57. A large number of replacements are expected this evening from many of the countries, making the morning standings relatively unimportant.

It is expected that the USA squad this evening will be the same Texas/Lezak squad that has broken the world records at least twice before. All are swimming well with the Texas contingent (Peirsol, Hansen & Crocker) all winning individual golds in the stroke 100s, and Jason Lezak qualified in second place for tonight’s 100 freestyle final.

Might we see the men match the ladies in producing a world record in the medley relay?

The fastest splits for each stroke this morning follow:

Backstroke

Guiherme Guido BRA :53.66
Arkady Vyatchanin RUS :53.75
Peter Marshall USA :53.86


Breaststroke

Mark Riley AUS :59.87
Grigori Falko RUS 1:00.29
Gregory Owen RSA 1:00.64


Butterfly

Evgeny Korotyshkin RUS :51.45
Benjamin Michaelson USA :51.68
Michael Mintenko CAN :52.21


Freestyle

Nick Brunelli USA :48.01
Casey Flouch AUS :48.78
Evgeny Lagunov RUS :49.12


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Men’s 1500 freestyle

Two heats were swum this morning, with the fastest seeded heat to be swum this evening. At least two of the swims have a good chance of breaking into the swims performed by tonight’s top eight seeds. Israel’s Shilo Ayalon, a Georgia Tech collegiate star, had the only sub-15 swim so far at 14:58.70. Justin Mortimer (USA), a medalist in the 400 freestyle, swam 15:02.39.

Ayalon closed with great strength, trailing Mortimer by 4.79 as late as the 1000 mark, 10:02.40 to 9:57.61. Over the last 500 Ayalon gained nearly nine seconds with a 4:56.30, while Mortimer slowed, splitting 5:05.22.


-- D. Scott