World Championships: Lethal Leisel Strolls Through Prelims of 200 Breaststroke

By John Lohn

MELBOURNE, Australia, March 28. DID she even break a sweat? Relaxed, smooth and exerting minimal energy, Australia's Leisel Jones began defense of her world title in the 200 breaststroke by qualifying third for the semifinals. The world-record holder, Jones covered the four-lap race in 2:27.10, a time that equates to a bath for the Lethal One.

Really, Jones shouldn't have any competition in her pursuit of the gold medal. While Tara Kirk represented the United States superbly in the 100 distance, giving Jones something to think about, it's unlikely the Aussie will be pushed in this discipline. Her world record of 2:20.54 is nearly two seconds faster than history's No. 2 performer, Amanda Beard.

Leading qualifying and actually edging Jones, though it required most of her strength, was South Africa's Suzaan Van Biljon (2:27.03). Sweden's Sandra Jacobson was third in 2:27.08 and Germany's Birte Steven was fourth with a mark of 2:27.85. Korea's Seul Ki Jung (2:27.90) and Kirk (2:28.50) followed, along with Great Britain's Kirsty Balfour (2:28.53) and American Megan Jendrick (2:28.71), who appeared strong at the finish.

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