FINA World Cup, Singapore: Ian Thorpe Makes Comeback Complete With First International Race

SINGAPORE, November 3. THE first day of prelim competition at the Singapore stop of the FINA World Cup featured the long-awaited return of Ian Thorpe to competition, with his Australian teammates dominating the morning session..

Women's 800 freestyle
Rachel Knowles of the United States, who is attending the meet as part of the Palo Alto Stanford Aquatics age group team, posted the fastest time in the early heats of the timed final swims in this prelim session. Knowles swam a 9:04.13, well ahead of second-place Lin Fuchs of Singapore, who swam a 9:15.75. The third-fastest time was swum by Rachel Tseng, who posted a 9:16.31.

Men's 100 freestyle
Australia posted the three fastest times in prelims, with Cameron McEvoy leading the way with a 47.87. Kyle Richardson was right behind with a 48.04, and Matthew Abood was third in 48.22. Rounding out the championship final field will be Kenya's Jason Dunford (48.23), France's Jeremy Stravius (48.44), China's Lu Zhiwu (48.45) and Hu Yue (48.93) and Australia's Andrew Lauterstein (49.35).

Women's 200 freestyle
Ophelie-Lyrielle Etienne qualified first for finals with a top time of 1:56.53. Australia qualified swimmers in second through sixth: Merinda Dingjan (1:56.78), Blair Evans (1:56.78), Kylie Palmer (1:56.98), Emma McKeon (1:57.22) and Ellen Fullerton (1:57.76). Jasmine Tosky of the United States was seventh with a 1:58.26 and Melissa Ingram of New Zealand was eighth in 1:58.60.

Men's 50 breaststroke
Australia's Christian Sprenger (26.68) and Brenton Rickard (27.39) were the class of the field, qualifying first and second, respectively. Huang Yunkun of China was third in 28.05. Also making the championship final was Kyuwoong Choi of Korea (28.25), Egan Gans of the United States (28.36), Hsin-Hung Chiang of Chinese Taipei (28.63), Cho-Yi Chen of Chinese Taipei (28.84) and Japan's Naoya Tomita (29.02).

Women's 100 breaststroke
Leiston Pickett of Australia swam a 1:06.90 to lead the qualifiers. Second through eighth places went to Hye Jin Kim of Korea (1:07.27), Su Yeon Back of Korea (1:07.62), Keiko Fukudome of Japan (1:08.12), Fanny Babou of France (1:08.28), Daree Jeong of Korea (1:08.32), Joline Hoestman of Sweden (1:08.39) and Laura Simon of Germany (1:08.65).

Women's 100 butterfly
Therese Alshammar, the World Cup points leader among women, will be looking to add more money and points to her coffers after qualifying first in this event with a 57.43. China's Jiao Liuyang, the reigning long course world champion in the 200 butterfly, qualified second with a 57.67. Rounding out the field for tonight's final will be Li Tao of Singapore (58.11), Australia's Jessicah Schipper (58.35) and Libby Trickett (58.39), Tomoyo Fukuda of Japan (58.53), Martina Granstroem of Sweden (58.99) and Jasmine Tosky of the USA (59.10).

Men's 100 backstroke
Jeremy Stravius of France, the reigning co-world champion, qualified first with a 52.41. Countryman Benjamin Stasiulis was second with a 53.07. Ryan Pini, known mostly for his butterfly prowess, was third in 53.35. Also making it into the finals were Jan-Philip Glania of Germany (53.49), Masafumi Yamaguchi of Japan (53.90), Kazuki Watanabe of Japan (53.97), Nelson Silva of Brazil (54.28) and Kai Wee Ng of Singapore (55.24).

Women's 50 backstroke
Rachel Goh (27.24) and Grace Loh (27.54) will take the top two lanes in the final tonight for Australia. Also qualifying for the final was Japan's Shiho Sakai (27.61), Alexianne Castel of France (28.11), Julia Larina (29.43) and Valeria Kolotushkina of Russia (29.52), Sandra Hafstroem of Sweden (29.78) and Yu-Jung Lan of Chinese Taipei (29.90)

Men's 200 butterfly
Chen Yin of China will race in lane four in the final tonight, posting a 1:56.44 in prelims. Christopher Wright of Australia qualified second with a 1:56.60. Chad Le Clos of South Africa, the World Cup points leader for men, posted the third-fastest time of 1:56.63, with Travis Nederpelt of Australia also dipping under 1:57 with a 1:56.85. Also set to compete in the final will be Omar Pinzon of Colombia (1:57.20), Gyucheol Chang of Korea (1:58.41), Chi-Chieh Hsu of Chinese Taipei (1:58.50) and Sam Ashby of Australia (2:02.32).

Women's 200 individual medley
Australia's Ellen Fullerton posted the top time of 2:11.15, while Jasmine Tosky of the USA cruised through in her third prelim race, posting the second-fastest time of 2:12.02. Also qualifying for the final were Tomoyo Fukuda of Japan (2:12.39), Celina Li of the United States (2:13.12), Hye Ra Choi of Korea (2:13.88), Lara Grangeon of France (2:13.97), Miyu Otsuka of Japan (2:14.62) and Kanako Watanabe of Japan (2:14.98).

Men's 400 freestyle
David McKeon of Australia was quickest in the prelims, posting a 3:45.11. Austria's Markus Rogan will attempt a tough double in tonight's prelims, qualifying second in the 400 free with a 3:52.54 and also scheduled to swim in the timed final of the 400 individual medley (see below).

Also making the 400 free final were Phillip Morrison of Brazil (3:52.70), Yu-Chen Tseng of Chinese Taipei (3:52.72), Kai Wai Wong of Hong Kong (3:53.76), Cameron McEvoy of Australia (3:54.47), Zhen Teo of Singapore (3:54.99) and Nick Silverthorn of the United States (4:02.08).

Women's 50 freestyle
Australia's Cate Campbell, the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist in this event, will be the top seed for tonight's final with a qualifying time of 24.04. Australia's Olivia Halicek (24.48) and Emma McKeon placed second and third, with Sweden's Therese Alshammar picking up the fourth qualifying spot with a 24.69.

Australia's Libby Trickett cemented her comeback by qualifying for her second event of the day, placing fifth with a 25.09. Merinda Dingjan of Australia (25.11), Xiang Qi Lim of Singapore (25.55) and Melanie Henique of France (25.63) also will swim in the final.

Men's 200 breaststroke
Australia's Brenton Rickard and Christian Sprenger switched qualifying slots from earlier in the 50 breast, with Rickard qualifying first this time for the final with a 2:09.53. Sprenger, the long course world record holder in this event, swam a 2:09.96. Completing the field for the final will be Marco Koch of Germany (2:10.00), Naoya Tomita of Japan (2:10.14), Huang Yunkun of China (2:11.34), Kyuwoong Choi of Korea (2:15.17), Duan Le Lim of Singapore (2:17.55) and Egan Gans of the United States (2:18.51).

Men's 100 individual medley
Markus Rogan of Austria and Chad Le Clos will both complete a long day of racing with the sprint IM as the third event for each of them. Rogan qualified first with a 55.25, and Le Clos was second with a 55.75. Omar Pinzon of Colombia was third in 55.81, with fourth and fifth places going to Yuma Kosaka of Japan (56.20) and Kyle Richardson of Australia (56.35).

After months of worldwide hype, Ian Thorpe swam in his first international race since 2004 with a sixth-place qualifying time of 56.74. Thorpe is not known for his individual medley swimming, though he did famously race it at the 2003 world championships, where he finished second behind Michael Phelps.

Rounding out the competitors for tonight's final will be Masafumi Yamaguchi of Japan (57.02) and Wei Ming Ho of Singapore (58.33).

Women's 200 backstroke
Missy Franklin, who broke the world record in this event less than three weeks ago at the Berlin stop of the World Cup, is not competing in Singapore. Alexianne Castel of France will not likely give Franklin's 2:00.03 a scare in tonight's final, after posting a 2:07.09 in today's prelims. Shiho Sakai of Japan, the former world record holder, qualified second in 2:07.82. Also swimming in the final will be Bai Anqi of China (2:07.85), Melissa Ingram of New Zealand (2:08.13), Mikkayla Maselli-Sheridan of Australia (2:09.84), Ally Howe of the United States (2:11.89), Jessica Pengelly of South Africa (2:12.70) and Sandra Hafstroem of Sweden (2:12.74).

Men's 50 butterfly
Jeremy Stravius, known as a backstroker and freestyler, qualified first for the final ahead of more accomplished butterflyers with a time of 23.36. Olympic finalists Jason Dunford of Kenya (23.48) and Ryan Pini of Papua New Guinea (23.96) qualified second and third, respectively, while Christopher Wright of Australia was fourth with a 23.99, tied with countryman and Olympic bronze medalist Andrew Lauterstein. Rounding out the field of qualifiers were Kosuke Hagino of Japan (24.06), Sam Ashby of Australia (24.18) and Gyucheol Chang of Korea (24.20).

The men's 400 individual medley only has eight competitors registered, so those swimmers will compete during tonight's session in a timed-final format.