Australian Trials: Flash! Stephanie Rice Obliterates 200 IM World Record, Several Commonwealth Records Fall

SYDNEY, Australia, March 25. VAULTING herself to the top of the individual medley pedestal, Stephanie Rice swept the IM world records with her 200 IM swim at the Australian Trials.

Rice shot down the drug-tainted world record of China's Wu Yanyan set 11 years ago with a 2:09.72 in 1997 when the Australian ripped off a 2:08.92 to knocked .8 seconds from the record.

Rice clocked splits of 28.03, 1:00.56 and 1:39.24 en route to the new record. At the 100-meter mark, Rice actually stood an astonishing 1.3 seconds under world-record pace. Alicia Coutts finished second to the amazing race with a 2:11.87, while Shayne Reese took third in 2:12.97.

"It's definitely beyond comprehension," Rice told Swimming Australia. "The world record had stood for a long, long time. I'm going to celebrate and enjoy the moment. It was definitely beyond my expectations. I've had the meet of my life and I'm so happy and just hope I can put together an even better preparation for the Olympics and try and improve my times. I know that I have put in an even harder block of training now."

Rice becomes the first Australian to hold the record since Shane Gould's 2:23.07 in 1972, which stood from Aug. 28, 1972 until April 13, 1973 when East German Kornelia Ender broke it with a 2:23.01.

Rice also becomes the first swimmer since 1980 to hold both the 200 and 400 IM world records since East Germany's Petra Schneider.

World Record Progressions
Courtesy of USA Swimming
2:27.8 Claudia Kolb USA Lincoln 8/21/1966
2:27.5 Claudia Kolb USA Santa Clara 7/8/1967
2:26.1 Claudia Kolb USA Winnipeg 7/30/1967
2:25.0 Claudia Kolb USA Philadelphia 8/18/1967
2:23.5 Caludia Kolb USA Los Angeles 8/25/1968
2:23.07 Shane Gould AUS Munich 8/28/1972
2:23.01 Kornelia Ender GDR Berlin 4/13/1973
2:20.51 Andrea Huebner GDR Belgrade 9/4/1973
2:18.97 Ulrike Tauber GDR Vienna 8/18/1974
2:18.83 Ulrike Tauber GDR Wittenberg 6/10/1975
2:18.30 Ulrike Tauber GDR Tallin 3/12/1976
2:17.14 Kornelia Ender GDR Berlin 6/5/1976
2:15.85 Ulrike Tauber GDR Berlin 8/28/1977
2:15.09 Tracy Caulkins USA Woodlands 8/2/1978
2:14.07 Tracy Caulkins USA Berlin 8/20/1978
2:13.69 Tracy Caulkins USA Austin 1/5/1980
2:13.00 Petra Schneider GDR Magdeburg 5/24/1980
2:11.73 Ute Geweniger GDR East Berlin 7/4/1981
2:11.65 Li Lin CHN Barcelona 7/30/1992
2:09.72 Yanyan Wu CHN Shanghai 10/17/1997
2:08.92 Stephanie Rice AUS Sydney 3/25/2008

Men's 100 free semis
Shortly after France's Alain Bernard snatched the world record in the 100 free with an astounding 47.50 at the European Championships, Eamon Sullivan nearly took it away with a 47.55 to become the second-fastest swimmer in the event. Sullivan went out in a blazing fast time of 22.74 before coming home in 24.81. Incredibly, Bernard and Sullivan both have cleared the previous world record of 47.84 set by Pieter van den Hoogenband.

"I think I've got a little bit left (for the final)," Sullivan told Swimming Australia. "A few things probably didn't go to plan but overall it was a great swim. So, no complaints, and hopefully I can find a bit more tomorrow. I have a few things I think I can improve on. The plan was to get out pretty easy in the first 50 and try and nail the back end."

The championship final will look to be a swift one as sub-50 did not guarantee a spot in finals with Kenrick Monk in the final transfer spot with an eight-place 49.57. Andrew Lauterstein qualified second in 48.45, while Matt Targett (48.79) and Ashley Callus (48.81) made up the rest of the top four finishers.

Women's 200 free finals
Bronte Barratt broke the Commonwealth record of Libby Trickett (formerly Lenton) in the 200 free finals with a record swim of 1:56.60 to win the title. Trickett's previous record had stood at 1:57.06.

"I was already on the team, so I just wanted to go out there and give it everything I had especially in the last 50," Barratt told Swimming Australia. "Everyone was trying to mow me down, so I just had to put my head down and go for it. It's so amazing…my first team and I get to swim two individual events and compete in the 4x200m relay. It's worked perfectly and I couldn't really ask for anything more. I was really hoping to go under 1.57 and then when I looked up and saw 1.56.60, I was blown away, very excited."

Linda Mackenzie placed second in another swift time of 1:56.99, also under the former record, while Angie Bainbridge (1:58.11) and Lara Davenport (1:58.55) rounded out the top four. Melanie Schlanger (1:58.71) and Kylie Palmer (1:58.79) also earned relay duty at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Men's 200 fly finals
Nick D'Arcy became the 10th-fastest swimmer all time in the event when he clocked a Commonwealth-record time of 1:55.10. He posted splits of 25.94, 55.43 and 1:25.06 along the way.

"I thought I'd maybe step up a little bit in the final because of the atmosphere but to go a second faster is just incredible, I'm absolutely ecstatic with that time," D'Arcy told Swimming Australia. "It puts me up there in the world, so I couldn't be happier. I'm off to Beijing, and that's all I wanted, Beijing. I wanted to establish the Australians along with my credentials so the world knows we're here and we mean business in Beijing."

Travis Nederpelt, who already had qualified for Beijing, placed second for another event with a 1:56.06. Christopher Young finished outside of the Olympic spots with a third-place 1:58.75.

Women's 200 fly semis
Felicity Galvez (2:10.56) and Samantha Hamill (2:10.80) will swim in the center lanes during finals, but world-record holder Jessicah Schipper is lurking on the outside after clocking a conservative third-place swim of 2:11.17 during semis.

Men's 200 breast semis
Christian Sprenger (2:13.10) and Brenton Rickard (2:14.05) earned the top two spots in finals during semis, while Jim Piper (2:14.73) and Craig Tucker (2:16.04) will bracket the two during the final heat.

Men's 800 free relay finals
The team of Theodore Pasialis, Joshua Minogue, Grant Brits and Kenrick Monk won the event in 7:28.26.