Thorpe Does It Again–3 Days, 3 World Records

By Stephen J. Thomas

SYDNEY, May 15. AUSTRALIAN teen phenom Ian Thorpe turned in his third world record in three days when he won the 200 meter freestyle in 1:45.51 at the Australian National Championships and Olympic Trials at the Homebush Aquatic Centre in Sydney.

On Day One of the eight-day competition, Thorpe lowered his own world record in the 400m free by half a second, clocking 3:41.33. Yesterday, during the semi-finals of the 200m free, he broke his own record of 1:46.00 with a time of 1:45.69.

A vocal crowd of over 10,000 was privileged to witness the fastest 200 meter freestyle field in history. Those in the field included: the current world champion, Michael Klim; former world record-holder, Grant Hackett; Atlanta bronze medalist, Daniel Kowalksi; and dual Olympic 1500 meter gold medalist, Kieren Perkins.

Much as he did here last August, Klim took the race to Thorpe, ledaing at the 50 meter mark by .06 of a second. By the halfway point, Thorpe had moved in front by 0.14 second, and at the 150 meter turn had lengthened his lead to .32 second. Then, just as he had at the Pan pacs, he left Klim in his wake over the final 50 meters.

Klim finished second, 1.38 seconds behind Thorpe and just outside his personal best set in the race last August. Former world record-holder, Grant hackett, finished third in 1:47.81 with sixth place at 1:48.15. After the race, Daniel Kowalksi made the point that in finishing fifth in 1:48.13, he was faster than in his bronze medal swim in this event in Atlanta.

Thorpe's new world record splits tonight:
50 meters 100 meters 150 meters 200 meters
24.63 51.03 1:18.18 1:45.51

Thorpe's former world record, semi-final, May 14
24.97 52.04 1:19.12 1:45.69

Dorsal specialist Matt Welsh set an Australian record by almost three-quarters of a second and turned in the world's fastest time this year in winning the 100 meter backstroke in 54.14 seconds. Josh Watson earned the second spot on the Australian team when he touched in 54.82. Welsh's time makes him the fourth fastest performer all-time, while Watson's leap-frogged him into the eighth slot all-time.

Fourteen year-old Liesel Jones became the yougest swimmer to qualify for the Australian Olympic team in sixteen years when she won the women's 100 meter breaststroke in 1:08.71. Her Queensland teammate, Tarnee White, was second in 1:09.05. Former world record-holder, Samantha Riley, finished a disappointing seventh.

Dyana Calub easily took the women's 100 meter backstroke in 1:01.71, just off the national record she set at last year's Pan Pacific Championships. There was a tie for the second spot, with Giann Rooney and Clementine Stoney both touching in 1:02.58. Australian officials have not yet decided what to do about the tie, as only two swimmers can be selected to represent a country in each event.

Susie O'Neill gave notice that she will be a force to contend with in the 200 free as well as the 200 fly come September, when she set an Australian and Commonwealth record of 1:57.47 for the four-lap freestyle event in the semifinals. O'Neill easily outdistanced the field, with no other women under the two-minute mark.

O'Neill's time was the world's fastest in almost three years and the fifth fastest in history, trailing only world record-holder Franziska van Almsick of Germany and three Chinese. Her splits:

50 meters 100 meters 150 meters 200 meters
27.86 57.74 1:27.65 1:57.47

Two-time Olympian Elli Overton, who trained at the University of California at Berkeley, breezed to the top qualifying spot for tomorrow's final in the 200 meter individual medley, clocking 2:17.63. Newcomer Jennifer Reilly was a close second at 2:17.70.

In the men's 200 meter butterfly, comebacking Scott Goodman led all qualifiers at 1:58.76, just ahead of Greg Shaw (1:58.87) and Justin Norris (1:59.02). Goodman had retired after the disappointment of being disqualified for a false start at the 1998 World Championships in Perth.