Flash! Lochte, Aussie Women Light Up World Short Course Champs with Global Standards

SHANGHAI, China, April 7. IT took until the third day of competition, but the first global standards of the World Short Course Championships were set on Friday. Not surprisingly, Ryan Lochte and the Australian women were responsible.

Fresh off a dynamite showing at the NCAA Championships that included a trio of American records, Lochte blazed through the 200 individual medley in 1:53.31, good for an easy triumph over Austria's Markus Rogan (1:55.68). Lochte's time knocked the 1:53.46 of Laszlo Cseh from the record book.

Lochte split 24.98 for the butterfly leg and was a full second ahead of Rogan after the backstroke. He maintained a strong pace on the breaststroke leg and then powered home with a 50-meter split of 27.33 for the freestyle portion of the event.

Behind the quartet of Tayliah Zimmer, Jade Edmistone, Jessicah Schipper and Libby Lenton, the Aussie women clocked 3:51.84 for the 400 medley relay, an effort that dipped well below the former world record of 3:54.95, set in 2004 by the Australians. Zimmer opened with a 58.54 backstroke split and was followed by Edmistone’s 1:04.95 effort during the breaststroke leg. Schipper checked in on the fly leg with a 56.36 and Lenton brought it home in 51.99.

En route to a silver-medal finish, the United States set an American record as its 3:55.65 was just under the 3:55.68 from the 2004 version of this meet. Margaret Hoelzer handled the backstroke in 59.51 and was followed by Tara Kirk (1:05.29) and Rachel Komisarz (57.55) on the breast and fly legs. Maritza Correia anchored the relay in 53.30.

Lenton also enjoyed individual glory in the 100 freestyle, where she obliterated the field with a performance of 52.33. The world-record holder at 51.70, Lenton finished exactly one second ahead of the Netherlands’ Marleen Veldhuis (53.33). Correia slipped in for third as her 53.54 effort was enough to edge Finland’s Hanna-Maria Seppala (53.78).

The United States women received their major sparks from Hoelzer and Kate Ziegler. In the 200 backstroke, Hoelzer stroked to the wall in 2:05.29 to secure a triumph over Zimmer (2:05.99). As for Ziegler, she rebounded from a surprising silver medal in the 800 freestyle to win the 400 free in 4:01.79. The silver medal went to Aussie Bronte Barratt in 4:03.29.

A pair of Americans earned medals in the men’s 50 freestyle, but it was Croatia’s Duje Draganja who won gold, thanks to a time of 21.38. The Olympic medalist and former standout at Cal edged out the United States’ Cullen Jones (21.52) while American Nick Brunelli and the Ukraine’s Oleksandr Volynets shared bronze with times of 21.62.

Sweden uncorked a one-three finish in the women’s 50 butterfly as Therese Alshammar (25.76) prevailed ahead of Austria’s Fabienne Nadarajah (25.95). Anna-Karin Kammerling, the world-record holder, was third for Sweden in 26.07. Aussie Brooke Hanson was the winner of the 100 individual medley in 1:00.16, ahead of the 1:00.74 turned in by Seppala. Slovakian veteran Martina Moravcova took bronze in 1:01.41.

Defeated at the NCAA Championships two weeks ago, Kazakhstan’s Vlad Polyakov corralled the men’s 200 breaststroke title. The University of Alabama product raced home in 2:06.95, quicker than the 2:07.52 of Australia’s Brenton Rickard. As for the men’s 400 free, Russia’s Yuri Prilukov won easily in 3:38.08 and was followed by South Korea’s Tae-Hwan Park (3:40.43).

In semifinal action, Kirk was the top qualifier in the 100 breaststroke with a mark of 1:06.41 and teammate Jessica Hardy was third in 1:06.57. Brazil’s Kaio Almeida led the men’s 50 fly semifinals in 23.19 with American Jayme Cramer in second (23.33). Aussie Matt Welsh, already the winner of the 100 back, had the quickest semifinal swim in the 50 back with a time of 24.17.

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