Austrian Qualifying Meet: Three Swimmers Triple During Three-Day Meet

By David Rieder

NEUSTADT, Austria, November 14. THE Austrian Qualifying meet for the European Short Course Championships, as well as its first qualifying meet for this winter's World Short Course Championships, came to a close today in Neustadt.

During the meet's three days, both Austrian and international swimmers put up numerous world-ranked times, and three swimmers, Estonia's Triin Aljand, South Africa's Darian Townsend, and Slovakia's Tjasa Oder, each won three events during the course of the meet. Additionally, Aljand set the only two meet records of the competition.

Aljand set meet records in winning the women's 50 fly (26.01) and 50 free (24.64). Her 50 fly time moved her into 10th in the world, while her 50 free time left her just two one-hundredths of a second shy of the world top 10. The former Texas A&M star also claimed the 100 fly in 58.51.

Townsend took the men's 200 free (1:45.97) and 200 IM (1:56.26), as well as the 50 free (22.62). The Olympic gold medalist's time in the 200 free fell well short of his season-best of 1:44.07, which ranks in the world top-ten, while his 200 IM time came up exactly two seconds short of his fourth-ranked time of 1:54.26. Oder, meanwhile, posted winning marks in the 400 IM (4:44.54), 800 free (8:29.27), and 400 free (4:09.29).

Randall Bal of the United States swept the men's 50 and 100 back events. He posted a 50 time of 23.69, a touch short of his second-ranked 23.46, while his 100 mark of 51.71 missed his sixth-ranked 51.19. Slovakia's Tanja Smid earned wins in the women's 100 and 200 breast, with respective times of 1:08.68 and 2:25.28. On the men's side, Italy's Nicolo Ossola also won dual breaststroke distances, the 50 (27.13) and 100 (59.55).

Slovenia's Peter Mankoc earned wins in both the 100 fly and 100 IM. He posted a 52.68 in the 100 fly and a 54.99 in the 100 IM, more than four seconds slower than his world record of 50.76 set last December. Italy's Federico Colbertaldo rounded out the double winners with triumphs in the 400 (3:47.09) and 1500 free (15:01.03).

Italy's Romina Armellini claimed the women's 200 back in 2:10.40, while her countryman Damiano Lestingi won the men's equivalent in 1:54.07. Other Italian winners included Michele Santucci, who took the men's 100 free in 48.87; and Caterina Giacchetti, who beat the field in the women's 200 fly in 2:08.42. Turkey's Hazel Saraikaya grabbed the final international victory, with her 1:01.06 triumph in the women's 100 back.

The host Austrians beat out their foreign rivals in ten of the events on offer at the meet. Fabienne Nadarajah earned the women's 50 back win in 27.97, while Jakub Maly (men's 400 IM, 4:13.91) and Verena Klocker (women's 200 free, 1:59.45) also earned wins on the opening day of competition. Martin Spitzer out-sprinted the field in the men's 50 fly, posting a 24.04, before Hunor Mate touched out Italy's Paolo Bossini in the men's 200 breast, 2:09.35 to 2:09.38.

Birgit Koschischek earned a win in the women's 100 free in 55.24, as did Uschi Halbreiner in the women's 200 IM (2:14.91). Christina Strigl grabbed the women's 50 breast in 32.03, while Lisa Zaiser took the 100 IM in 1:02.26, and Bernhard Wolf won the men's 200 fly in 1:58.20.