GELSENKIRCHEN- The Germany team is in the throes of a power struggle between
the federation and competitors and the matter was very much at the fore
at the Arena Festival, the final round of the World Cup series, which was
held in Gelsenkirchen.
The German competitors believe they should have a say as to which swimwear
company the federation signs up with. They also believe they should receive
some of the contract monies.
Up to the end of 1995, German teams contracted to wear Arena but from January
1, 1996 they wear Speedo. But over the two days of competition the German
teams were seen wearing Arena, Speedo, and Adidas.
Missing from the meet was Franziska van Almsick who has a personal contract with Arena. Rumours were rife that she had pulled out because she was being
forced to wear Speedo. This was hotly denied by her agent, Werner Koster,
who was adamant that Franziska had withdrawn due to a knee injury for which
she was receiving treatment. Koster added that Franzie would wear Speedo
in Atlanta but firmly believes that if swimmers took the case to a court
of law, they would win. In law they might win but on the other hand, a federation
would not be obligated to select that competitor.
While Franzie, together with many other top names, were missing, Sandra
Volker, GER, seized the opportunity to capture the headlines by equalling
the European short course record for the 50 m freestyle of 24.75 held by
Franzie. Unfortunately she did not follow it up 24 hours later with a victory
in the 100 m backstroke. She was beaten by Denmark's Mette Jacobsen. Mette,
the European champion, clocked 1:00.41 to Sandra Volker's 1:01.00. Afterwards
Volker tried to explain her defeat. "I know that presently, I'm better
in freestyl sprint than in backstroke events. However, I do not really know
why. But it was important efor me to compete in a big meet-even though for
me short course does not have the importance as in former years."
Whilst one of the big names of Europe was missing another was in action.
Alexander Popov, the Russian double Olympic and world champion, comfortably
won the 100 m freestyle in 47.48. But all the time one felt he had another
gear to move up to if an unexpected challenge appeared. Although his performance
as always, looked impressive he was "not really happy with my time.
Still, it wasn't too bad as a first preparation for the Olympics in Atlanta.
For me the three World Cup meets in Paris, Imperia and Gelsenkirchen have
been crucial with regard to the Olympic Games. During the race I didn't
pay any attention to the other swimmers." In Atlanta, Popov believes
his most serious contenders will be "Brazil's Gustavo Borges, Fernando
Scherer, the U.S. athletes and Torsten Spanneberg."
One swimmer he may have overlooked is Britain's Mark Foster, the former
world short course champion and record holder, who beat Popov twice over
the 50 free. In Imperia Mark came within 0.20 seconds of Popov's world record
with a 21.70 for the 50m freestyle. Four days later in Germany, Foster was
again ahead by 0.12 seconds when he touched home in 21.80sec.
The Olympic Games often attract competitors out of retirement and this
year is no exception. Gelsenkirchen saw the return of Marianne Muis of the
Netherlands, and Germany's Stefan Pfeiffer.
Marianne's return was in winning style as she left the field in her wake
in the 100 m freestyle. Winning was not enough she explained. "I wanted
to improve on my performance of last December (54.25). But I failed with
today's 54.51. Since I finished my training as a physiotherapist I can concentrate
on my swimming. I hope to qualify for Atlanta."
Stefan's return was not quite so successful as he failed to make the top
six in all three of his races-200, 400 and 800 m freestyle. The 30-year-old
decided last October to make an attempt to win selection for a fourth Olympics.
In the past his eleven medals won at the Olympics Games, World and European
Championships have mainly been over the 400 and 1500 m but for Atlanta he
will concentrate on the 4x200 m freestyle relay.
Australia always produce something or someone to make the rest of the world
sit up and think. Last year it was the underwater swimming of their butterfly
girls, this year their breaststroke swimmer-not Phil Rogers, the world short
course record holder for both 100 and 200 m, but Helen Denman. Phil failed
to win all but one of his three races. On the first day he was fourth to
Alexander Dzhaburiya in the 50 m. Alexander's winning time was 27.82 to
Phil's 28.08. In the 200 m he was passed on the sprint for home by Russia's
Stanislav Lopukhov. This time Phil's 2:09.70 was just 0.38 sec short. Could
he make it third time lucky. He did finish in first place but had to share
it with Lopukhov. Their time was 59.97. Little was known about Lopukhov
even by his own country's journalists, but he certainly made an impression.
He even had to pay his own way to Germany as the Russian sleectors did not
feel he was good enough. His 200 m time was a personal improvement of some
Little known outside of Australia is Helen Denman who won both the 50 and
100 breaststrokes. Her time of 31.04 for the 50 is the second fastest ever
recordws and a mere 6/100ths outside the world record set by Xue Han of
China at the first of this year's World Cup meets in Hong Kong.
Helen admitted that winning in Germany was easier than making a final in
Australia where she competes against the likes of Samantha Riley, the double
world short course champion and record holder. Helen also sped to a 1:07.76
in the 100 m. Her 50 m breast time was the best performance of the meet
and won her a Honda car. When Helen moved from Perth to Adelaide to continue
her swimming training, her mother gave Helen her car. Helen claims "since
I was driving around in my mother's car, it is nice to have my own now.
But due to transportation problems I think I'll take the money and not the
car back to Australia."
Poolside: During the heats of the 800 m freestyle at the Arena Festival,
the final World Cup meet of 1996, a new electronic lane counter was used
which in due course is expected to replace the hand-operated card system.
The electronic counting mechanism is fixed in the bottom of the pool and
at the poolside near the turn as a controlling device. Because of financial
reasons the mechanism is still operated by the turning judge and the athlete.
The mechanism was invented by Germany's Herbert Stahl who has already applied
for a patent. The cost per lane is approximately $1,700 Canadian dollars.
Top of Page |
Feb 96 Contents |
Mag Archives |
World Rankings |
Meet Results |
Links to Sites
Photo Library |
About SWIMNEWS ONLINE
COPYRIGHT © 1995-1998 SWIMNEWS MAGAZINE, All Rights Reserved.