Alice Mills Sizzles at Queensland Age Group Champs

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA, Jan. 13. THE final day of the Queensland Open and Age Group Championships was highlighted by 15-year-old Alice Mills winning her
sixth and seventh races of the meet.

Mills, who had already collected golds in the 50 free (25.85), 200 IM (2:17+), and 100 breast (1:15+) among other wins, added the 100 free and the 200 breast to her medal tally this evening, with the former a Queensland all-comers' record 56.48.

The Australian and Queensland girls' 15 record is 56.07 by Rebecca Creedy four years ago. However, the Queensland All-Comers' record was a 56.68 by America's Grace Cornelius from the 1987 Pan-Pac Championships. The Australian All-Cmers' record (analogous to the U.S. Open record) was 56.63 by Japan's Suzu Chiba from this same meet 11 years ago). Chiba later became
a Japanese Olympian in the sprints.

The fastest 100 free ever by a 15-year-old or younger had been the 55.79 recorded by America's Cynthia Woodhead at the FINA Cup in Tokyo Sept. 1, 1979 when she was just 14. At the time that swim was also an American record. (Howver, two months ago, China's unheralded Yang Yu, 15, swam an astonishing 54.94 at the Chinese National Games.)

Unable to compete at the Moscow Olympics because of the U.S. boycott, Woodhead swam for Coach Don LaMont at USC, becoming an All-America/NCAA champ and won the silver in the 200 free at the Los Angeles Olympics –an event where she held the world record.

Mills also took first in the 200 breast (2:41.41) after a pr 2:40.42 in the prelims. She's got a ways to go before she's ready to challenge the Aussie age-group record here (2:25.46 by Rebecca Brown from a decade ago) or the Australian all-comers' standard of 2:24.21 by China's Hi Qui — who last spring set the current world record (2:21.99) at the World Championship Trials.

Leisel Jones, now 16, set the Queensland All-Comers' record with her 2:28.03 at this meet last year.

Jones stroked to a win in girls' 16 200 IM (2:20.71) to go with her earlier sweep of the Open 50-100-200 breaststrokes. She was the Sydney silver medalist
in the 100 breast as a 15-year-old.

Although their times weren't particularly remarkable, the sister-brother combo of Jessica (17) and Andrew Affleck (19) won the Open 1500 frees. The former touched in 16:59.40 while her brother clocked 15:15.50 — both world-leading for 2002.

In the United States, both Kaylyn and Klete Keller — the latter defending NCAA 200-500 free champ for Coach Mark Schubert's USC Trojans — have won national championships. However, they've yet to do it in the same event (Kaylyn won the 800 free at Clovis last summer, Klete won the 400 free at Austin last March) or the same meet.

Perhaps their time may come this summer in Fort Lauderdale but not in March at Minneapolis (U.S. spring Nats) as Klete won't swim due to his NCAA

Commercial's William Sprenger, a promising 16-year-old who won the 400 free earlier, doubled this evening via wins in the 100 back (59.24, only sub 1:00.0); and 200 IM (2:08.37).

Sydney Olympian Robert Van Der Zant, who won the Open 50-100 back and both IMs earlier, holds the Queensland 16 record with his 2:06.14 from the Championships a decade ago. The Australian record itself belongs to the man who won gold in the 400 free at the last Olympics (but not the 200 free!) and also picked up golds and world records in the 200-400-800 freestyles at last summer's World Championships in Fukuoka.

Yes, not-so-young anymore Master Ian Thorpe, now all of 19, is the standard-bearer with a 2:04.58 set three years ago. Dare we suggest that perhaps the greatest middle-distance freestyler in the history of the sport
would be well served by focusing his efforts on the IMs the next three years so Keller (Massi Rosolino?) can collect golds and records?

For those who didn't notice, Thorpedo led off Australia's 400 medley relay team during the USA dual meet at last September's Goodwill Games' in
Brisbane and clocked a pr 55.64 — 16th globally for the year.

Many of these swimmers, along with Thorpe, Grant Hackett and World 100 back champ Matt Welsh, will be back ehre starting march 18 for the Australian
Championships/Commonwealth Games/Pan Pac selection meet.

The pool was constructed 20 years ago for the Commonwealth Games and is considered the country's second-fastest behind the Sydney Olympic facility.

— Bill Bell