Australian Short Course Championships: Flash! Libby Lenton, Alice Mills, Shayne Reese and Melanie Schlanger Crush Women’s 400 Free Relay World Record

MELBOURNE, Australia, September 2. AUSTRALIAN swimming's "golden girls" have done it again, breaking the world record for the 4x100m freestyle relay in a stunning finale to the Telstra Australian Short Course Championships at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre tonight as reported by Ian Hanson of Swimming Australia in the following article.

The team of Libby Lenton, Alice Mills, Shayne Reese and Melanie Schlanger destroyed the previous world mark set by the Netherlands at last year's FINA World Championships in Shanghai – clocking 3:31.66 – taking 1.66 off the previous mark of 3:33.32.

But the relay challenge, set up by Carey Aquatic coach Rohan Taylor, suffered an unexpected hiccup when Mills had to front up for a swim off with Liverpool (NSW) rookie Olivia Halicek.

Earlier in the program Mills and Halicek dead-heated for fourth in the 50m freestyle final and the National selectors had no alternative but to stage a swim-off for a place in the Telstra Dolphins team for next year's FINA World Short Course Championships – won by Mills in 24.53 to Halicek's 24.85.

Ten minutes later Mills fronted up with Lenton, Schlanger and Reese for a crack at the world record and the Aussie girls were on song.

Lenton led off in 51.91 – just 0.21 outside her individual world record of 51.70 but almost two seconds under world record pace.

Schlanger and Reese, members of the gold medal winning World Championship team in Melbourne this year, then split 53.23 and 53.27 respectively before Mills wheeled out a remarkable anchor leg of 53.25 – much to her own delight, the delight of her team mates and vocal crowd.

"What a way to end the meet, I thought we'd only just break the record but we smashed it," Mills said. "I didn't know how I would go after they sprung that swim-off on me but I actually surprised myself."

Lenton admitted "it was kind of a bit nerve-racking when they first came to us with the idea after the boys did so well in the four by 200. Shayne's coach (Rohan Taylor) came up with the idea to have a go after we all swam so well in the individual 100 the other day. I know me personally and all these girls, are not really bold statement-type people. We were are all a bit hesitant (about the world record attempt), but we're all kind of fun characters, so we just tried to have as much fun, and be as light-hearted as we could."

Mills and Reese were later included in a new-look 30-strong Telstra Dolphins Australian for next year's FINA World Championships in Manchester.

The Australian selectors have named a team of 18 women and 12 men – a team led by 31-year-old veteran Adam Pine – who first represented Australia in 1993 and will contest his eighth FINA World Championships – five long course and three short course.

There are 11 world championship rookies – including 16-year-olds Belinda Hocking (Albury, NSW) and Samantha Hamill (Quad Park, Qld) and 18-year-old Robert Hurley (Wests Illawarra, NSW).

There are 11 swimmers from NSW, 10 from Queensland, five from Victoria, three from WA and one from South Australia.

Meanwhile in other highlights of the final night:

– Grant Hackett added the 1500m freestyle to his earlier wins in the 400 and 800m freestyle – clocking 14: 23.13 – 13 seconds outside his 2001 world record of 14:10.10.

– Australia's premier backstroker Matt Welsh had to pull out all stops to wrap up his ninth 50,100, 200m backstroke treble with a last lap win in the 200m final.

Nunawading young gun Ashley Delaney ran the gauntlet for the first 175m but Welsh had something up his sleeve and surged off the wall to overall Delaney in the charge to the wall – taking his 32nd National Short Course title in 1:52.27.

– Welsh's Melbourne Vicentre teammates Matt Targett and Rachel Goh showed the benefits of stints in the NCAA program in the United States with wins in the men's 100m freestyle and women's 50m backstroke, respectively.

Targett clocked a personal best time of 47.89 and becomes the first swimmer to win the 50/100m freestyle double since Chris Fydler in 1998.

Goh is a two-time NCAA champion and her win in the 50m backstroke is her maiden National title, swum in 27.45, the second fastest time ever by an Australian.

– Leisel Jones (Carey Aquatic, Vic) again nudged her 2003 world record (2:17.75) in winning the 200m breaststroke in 2:18.93 – dropping off marginally over the final lap.

– Queensland's Leith Brodie (Albany Creek) added the 100m individual medley to his two previous titles in the 200 and 400 IM this week – making him the first swimmer to win the medley treble three years in a row – and he did it in style, setting a new Australian record of 52.76.

– Athens Olympian Felicity Galvez, who had to wait four years to win her next National title after winning the 100 and 200m butterfly double in 2003 but only had to wait four days to win the next one after taking the 100m title in a personal best time of 57.45.

– Brenton Rickard – one of the stars of the 2006 Commonwealth Games and 2007 FINA World Championships – completed the 2007 long course and short course breaststroke treble, winning the 50m breaststroke final in 27.15.

– Libby Lenton withdrew from the 100m butterfly to concentrate on the 50m freestyle and she did not let the crowd down, setting a new Commonwealth record of 23.77 – just 0.18 outside Sweden's Therese Alshammar's 2000 world record of 23.59.

– In the men's 200m butterfly Nick D'Arcy showed why he is on track for next year's Beijing trials (the Telstra Australian Championships) when he clocked a personal best time of 1:54.35 – faster than the likes of Scott Miller, Scott Goodman, Michael Klim and William Kirby – the third fastest time by an Australian and;

-Kylie Palmer (Albany Creek, QLD), stormed home over the last two laps to take out the 200m freestyle in 1:55.11 – second quickest on the Australian all-time list behind Libby Lenton.

Click here to view event results PDF file.