The organizers in Malmö, Jan. 25-26, put a
lot of heart into the fourth leg of the 1997 FINA World Cup and the opening
finals session was showtime. A combination of music, lights, and dancers
made for a rollicking ambiance that had the spectators clapping and cheering
The meet was the best attended so far in this year's
series, with 474 swimmers from 27 countries taking part. Newcomers were
from Austria, Norway, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Belarus. Malmö also marked
the return of Australians Klim, Radley, and Dunn.
A guaranteed crowd-pleaser, the men's 100 freestyle
was the beginning of a strong meet for Australia. 19-year-old Michael Klim
was back with a vengeance to rack up points in the men's Sprint Freestyle
category. Sion Brinn of Jamaica took the first 50 out hard, but Klim attacked
the second 50, overtaking Brinn to touch in 48.86. Klim added an impressive
win in the 50 butterfly (24.13) and relegated Swedish veteran Anders Holmertz
to second place with his victory in the 200 freestyle (1:45.99). But he
was to know the same fate himself in the 100 butterfly as Finland's Vesa
Hanski came from behind to steal the win the by 2/100 of a second in 53.40.
Brinn gave his all in the 50 freestyle, winning
in 22.33 and establishing a new national record.
Coming off a series of straight wins in Hong Kong
and Beijing, Radley continued to dominate the men's backstroke, winning
the 100 in 53.6. "Things are going great," he said afterward.
"I'm training pretty hard here so I'm not expecting too much (in terms
of time). I'm just trying to win and stay consistent. I'm really looking
forward to Germany," he added with a grin. But the second day saw him
disqualified in both the 50 and 200 backstroke finals (having won them both)
for kicking underwater past the regulation 15-metre mark.
In the women's 100 freestyle, Katrin Meissner of
Germany and Wei Guo of China touched together in 54.97; it was the second
win of the meet for both women.
Danish swimmers were on a definite high. After
a 1-2 finish and a national record (59.18) in the women's 100 butterfly
on the first night, Denmark's duo of Mette Jacobsen and Sophia Skou repeated
the feat in the 200 race. While Danish supporters cheered, Jacobsen swam
to a second national record of 2:07.46, the number one time in the world
this year. Teammate Skou was second in 2:09.64, also a personal best.
"I had a dream about swimming that fast,"
said an elated Jacobsen, "but I was still a bit surprised when I saw
the time. I just wanted to go better than my best (2:08.28) and that race
was just fantastic." Britt Raaby set yet another national record for
Denmark with her third place finish in the 400 freestyle (4:08.39).
Another high point came from Sweden's Louise Karlsson,
who equalled her own world best time of 1:01.03 in the 100 individual medley.
After a prolonged illness in the fall and a tough training camp in South
Africa, she said she was certainly not expecting to swim so fast in Malmö.
"I feel great right now, so I'm going to go home and train really hard
for a month or so, and then concentrate on the short course worlds in Gothenburg,"
The latest Australian distance phenomenon, 15-
year-old Natasha Bowron, swept the 400 and 800 freestyle with personal bests.
Obviously in top form, Jörg Hoffmann of Germany swam to a national record in the 400 freestyle (3:41.55), only to follow up with a brilliant 800 race. He brought the whole crowd to its feet, smashing the European record (7:38.75, held by Gemany's Michael Gross) with his time of 7:36.24.