Australian Trials: Flash! Stephanie Rice, Emily Seebohm Set World Records

SYDNEY, Australia, March 22. THE swimmers Down Under weren't playing around as the Australian Trials began in earnest this morning with a pair of world records at the meet held in Sydney.

First, Stephanie Rice knocked Katie Hoff from the individual world-record books over long course when she posted a jaw-dropping 4:31.46. That performance knocked more than a second from Hoff's global standard of 4:32.89 set at the 2007 World Championships. Rice became the second Australian to own the world record in the event behind Gail Neall's 5:01.97 back in 1972.

According to Swimming Australia, "Rice joined boyfriend Eamon Sullivan, who set a world record last month in the 50m freestyle, in the history books. The 19-year-old was under the world record at every turn and powered away from the ‘red line' in the freestyle leg to ensure a six second personal best and an Olympic debut in Beijing."

"I really didn't even think that I would have come close to that world record," Rice told Swimming Australia. "That was an amazing time and I thought to myself ‘you just did a six second p.b.'. "I didn't even know what just happened, it was just unbelievable and I was just so in shock looking at my time. A world record has been my dream so I am just so happy that I got one."

400 IM World Record Progressions
Courtesy of USA Swimming
5:50.4 Eva Szekely HUN Budapest 4/10/1953
5:47.3 Mary Kok NETH Hilversum 3/28/1955
5:40.8 Eva Szekely HUN Budapest 7/13/1955
5:38.9 Mary Kok NETH Hilversum 12/2/1956
5:46.6^ Sylvia Ruuska USA Los Angeles 6/27/1958
5:43.7 Sylvia Ruuska USA Topeka 8/1/1958
5:41.1y Sylvia Ruuska USA Melbourne 2/24/1950
5:40.2y Sylvia Ruuska USA Redding 7/17/1959
5:36.5 Donna de Varona USA Indianapolis 7/15/1959
5:34.5 Donna de Varona USA Philadelphia 8/11/1961
5:29.7 Donna de Varona USA Los Altos 6/2/1962
5:27.4 Sharon Finneran USA Osaka 7/26/1962
5:24.7 Donna de Varona USA Osaka 7/26/1962
5:21.9 Sharon Finneran USA Osaka 7/28/1962
5:16.5 Donna de Varona USA Lima 3/10/1964
5:14.9 Donna de Varona USA New York 8/30/1964
5:11.7 Claudia Kolb USA Santa Clara 7/9/1967
5:09.7 Claudia Kolb USA Winnipeg 8/1/1967
5:08.2 Claudia Kolb USA Philadelphia 8/10/1967
5:04.7 Claudia Kolb USA Los Angeles 8/24/1968
5:01.97 Gail Neall AUS Munich 8/31/1972
5:01.10 Angela Franke GDR Utrecht 8/18/1973
4:57.51 Gudrun Wegner GDR Belgrade 9/6/1973
4:52.42 Ulrike Tauber GDR Vienna 8/21/1974
4:52.20 Ulrike Tauber GDR Wittenberg 6/7/1975
4:48.79 Birgit Treiber GDR Berlin 6/1/1976
4:42.77 Ulrike Tauber GDR Montreal 7/24/1976
4:40.83 Tracy Caulkins USA Berlin 8/23/1978
4:39.96 Petra Schneider GDR Leningrad 8/30/1980
4:38.44 Petra Schneider GDR Magdeburg 5/27/1980
4:36.29 Petra Schneider GDR Moscow 7/26/1980
4:36.10 Petra Schneider GDR Guayaquil 8/1/1982
4:34.79 Yan Chen CHN Shanghai 10/13/1997
4:33.59 Yana Klochkova UKR Sydney 9/16/2000
4:32.89 Katie Hoff USA Melbourne 4/1/2007
4:31.46 Stephanie Rice AUS Sydney 3/22/2008

Meanwhile, Hayley McGregory's world record in the 50 back, that she set with a 28.00 at the All-American Long Course Invitational, did not last long as the youngster Seebohm became the first sub-28 swimmer in the event with a time of 27.95 during semifinal action.

In other swimming, Grant Hackett blasted the 400 free with a sterling time of 3:43.15, just off his lifetime best of 3:42.51 set in 2001. The time stands as the best in the world this year, bettering Erik Vendt's 3:44.56 from the Missouri Grand Prix

"I'm just moving in confidence to see that time again and like I said it's good to be swimming fast again," Hackett told Swimming Australia.

Travis Nederpelt emerged from the 400 IM finale with the victory when he clocked a time of 4:16.31 to clinch his second Olympic Games roster slot.

"It's quite a stressful time when you're trying to get on the team and now, what a relief," Nederpelt told Swimming Australia. "I've got some more events as well and hopefully I can just be really calm and get the most out of myself."

Libby Trickett (previously Lenton) will battle Jessicah Schipper in the 100 fly after clocking a time of 58.55 in semis over Schipper's 58.60.

Meanwhile, Christian Sprenger topped the men's 100 breast semis with a time of 1:00.40 to qualify ahead of Brenton Rickard (1:00.83) and Jim Piper (1:01.73), while Matt Targett grabbed the quickest semifinal time in the 50 fly with a swift 23.44.

In the 400 freestyle relay, the team of Jade Neilson, Ellen Fullerton, Ashleigh McCleery and Amelia Evatt-Davey won in 3:46.59.