SWIMNEWS ONLINE: February 1997 Magazine Articles

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Karin Helmsteadt

The fifth leg (Jan. 28-29) inaugurated the spanking new pool at the Tollcross Park Leisure Centre in Glasgow, with 292 swimmers from 23 countries competing. At this point in the tour, a total of 40 countries had participated in one or more World Cup competitions, with Ireland the only new addition in Glasgow.

From a British perspective, the 1997 FINA Swiming World Cup will have been an important test. Swimmers from Great Britain travelled to every competition on the circuit. Deryk Snelling, National Performance Director for Great Britain since September, supports the World Cup events wholeheartedly, saying, "I think it's a great opportunity to race at the world level and to swim good races back to back. And as a host country the exposure that this kind of meet provides to our junior athletes is terrific. We've got 76 athletes here. I think it's the future, and the interest is growing. It will give a better global concept to the sport."

The usual suspects got things going with the men's 100 freestyle, and the race for the overall title in the men's Sprint Freestyle category got ever tighter. Sion Brinn led the race for 75 metres ahead of Michael Klim, but Klim came back hard to overtake a rapidly tiring Brinn, touching in 48.86. On the second day of competition, Klim continued to dazzle; his third win of the meet was the 200 freestyle (1:46.62), and he added a fourth victory in the 100 butterfly, narrowly missing the world record by 2/100 of a second. While he was disappointed, he said, "I'm looking forward to racing Denis Pankratov in Germany, and I hope he's in good shape!"

Xue Han, China, set World record in the 50 breaststroke with 30.88
For larger 64k photo click on image. Photo © Marco Chiesa

Despite their having arrived in Scotland only two days before the competition, the Chinese team had a decidedly successful meet. A team of eight swimmers took over from the team that went to Finland and Sweden, and they continued on to Gelsenkirchen. Chinese women won five events in all, proving that the long flight from Asia had had little negative effect. In fact, Glasgow saw the first world record of the 1997 series: Xue Han of China swam a blistering 50 breaststroke to break her own world record, clocking 30.88. "I wasn't expecting to swim that fast as I've been training very hard," she said, smiling. Ge Zhao, the Chinese coach, said that Han's goal had been to swim best times. "The record was her own, so I'm not surprised," he said. "She is a very good short course swimmer because she has a lot of power."

After serving a two-year suspension for doping, China's Bin Lu took top honours in the 50 backstroke, affirming her return to world class competition with her time of 28.74. Lu was disqualified in the 100 backstroke, however, for kicking into the turn. Limin Liu made up for that disappointment by winning the 100 butterfly (58.42) and the 200 butterfly; her time of 2:06.85 ranks her first in the world. She said the time change had not been a big problem so far, adding, "I'm using this competition mainly as a training opportunity, but I was aiming to swim faster than I did in Beijing, so I'm satisfied."

Matthew Dunn continued his prowess in the men's Individual Medley category, winning the 200 race in 1:59.02.

Adrian Radley, still leading in the Backstroke category and number one in the world for the distance, picked up where he left off and won the 100 backstroke in 53.15.

In keeping with World Cup tradition, swimmers from the host federation also rose to the occasion in front of the home crowd, putting in some good performances. James Hickman held off Australia's Scott Goodman in the 200 butterfly and swam to a new British record of 1:55.35. Susan Rolph, currently ranked number one in the world in the 200 individual medley, won the event in 2:12.73 ahead of Canada's Joanne Malar (2:13.13). Rolph added a second victory in the 100 individual medley (1:01.61). British favourite Mark Foster lost out to Micheal Klim in the 50 butterfly, managing a second place finish in 24.00 behind Klim's 23.92.

Australia's 15 year old Natasha Bowron, newest distance find.
For larger 64k photo click on image. Photo © Darren Braybrook / SPORT The Library

After her victory in the 800 freestyle the previous day, Natasha Bowron won the women's 400 freestyle in 4:08.97 to take the lead in the women's Distance Freestyle category. "This is my first national team experience so I'm really pleased with how I've done so far," she said. "I'm happy to be leading the category but I think I'll have to wait and see what happens in Germany."

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