PERTH - The 1998 Australian Short Course Championships is the first major meet to have the new FINA format of prelims, semi-finals, and finals in the 50s and 100s. They are also notable for being conducted within five days of the last competition day of the Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games.
The queen of the Commonwealth Games, Susan O'Neill, was missing, however, due to preparations for her marriage to Dr. Cliff Fairleigh on Saturday October 3.
No exceptions were being made for any reason. O'Neill and any other national team member missing for reasons such as illness would not receive a "pre-selection" pass onto the world short course team.
In the final of the men's 200 freestyle there was a second false start as Grant Hackett broke and the race continued with the unfortunate obviously aware that he would face the axe at the end of the final. He was right. Ian Thorpe went on to win a thriller from a fast finishing Michael Klim. They recorded the fourth and fifth all-time bests for the SC 200 free. The 15-year-old Thorpedo of freestyle has developed a characteristic Jon Konrads (distance king during the late 1950s and early 1960s) kick, the ability to put his foot on the gas pedal when it's needed. Thorpe won in 1:44.37, just ahead of Klim with 1:44.61.
Matthew Dunn made a dramatic return to the ranks of the distance medley swimmers after not competing in that event in Kuala Lumpur, opting instead for the men's 4x200 freestyle relay (on the same session) and a chance for a relay world record. In the men's 400 IM, setting a hot pace in the butterfly leg with 57.01, Dunn paced it easier than Marcel Wouda's existing world record splits, but blazed home in a fast freestyle leg.
|A comparison of the splits:|
|The old world record|
Two world records to the veteran Aussie in two weeks were not hard to accept according to an ecstatic Dunn.
"We've been planning this record since we came back to Perth. It's one I've had my eye on for some time now and I'm just so pleased to have an individual world record to add to the relay record."
Trent Steed was second in 4:12.99, and Grant McGregor was third in 4:13.15.
In the women's 200 fly, Petria Thomas led at the first 50 in 29.15 with Kate Godfrey at her shoulder. Going through the 100 in 1:01.96, Petria looked good but was not going out too hard. Godfrey was second with 1:02.01. Petria Thomas was the easy winner.
"I've been sick for the last five days and saw no point in going out for a good time. It was good to win and make selection for Hong Kong," said Thomas. The winning time for Thomas was 2:09.33, with Godfrey second in 2:11.51, and Sarah Windsor third in 2:12.09
The women's 400 IM was an anti-climax. Two young hometown swimmers, Rachel Harris and Jennifer Riley, swam a two-woman race, with Harris winning in 4:42.30 and Riley finishing second in 4:43.84. The times were pedestrian and reflected the state of health of some of those returning from Malaysia.
Other events on the first day: men's 50 backstroke, 50 breaststroke, and 4x100 free relay, and women's 1500 freestyle, 50 breaststroke, and 4x200 free relay.
In the men's 400 freestyle, two swimmers went under the existing world record in this exciting race, with the lead changing four times during the event. It was a great event for the crowd, which had increased fourfold since Dunn's 400 IM world record the previous day. It was a classic race for lovers of typical Australian distance rivalries of decades past (Konrads vs Murray Rose during the 1950s and 60s). Multiple world record holder Kieren Perkins was in the race, but only got to chase the young Turks' heels throughout the race.
|Old world record|
In the men's 100 butterfly, Geoff Huegill took the early lead followed by Scott Miller, but it was Michael Klim all the way after the first turn. The 50 split for Klim was 24.13, followed by Huegill in 24.73. Klim's time of 51.76 was more than half a second ahead of the younger Huegill, who posted 52.40. Miller swam a strong race for third with 53.05 to announce that he is back and has to be reckoned with in future.
Josh Watson, Kingscliff, set the early pace in the men's 200 backstroke with Victorian Matt Welsh following closely. Watson split 56.52 at the 100, with Welsh splitting 56.67 and Adrian Radley splitting 56.85. At the 150, Adrian Radley had moved up to second behind Watson and went on to take the lead in the last 50, winning with 1:55.16. Watson held his second position with 1:55.84 and Welsh was third with 1:56.16
In the men's 50 freestyle, Australian record holder Chris Fydler was too strong (22.18) for the young challengers David Carty (22.38) and Nathan Rickard (22.50), who took the silver and bronze medals respectively.
In the women's 200 breaststroke, Samantha Riley led in 33.29 at the 50, narrowly ahead of Caroline Hildreth. At the 100, Riley in the lead split 1:10.09. Nadine Neumann moved up in the middle of the race and went on to take the silver behind Riley. Riley's winning time was 2:25.43 with Neumann second in 2:26.75 and Hildreth third in 2:27.61. In the women's 100 freestyle, fired up by her experiences and selection for Kuala Lumpur, Lori Munz has shown great progress in 1998 and took her first national title in 54.66. Lori is coached by Rowan Taylor, 100 miles south of Sydney at the Shoalhaven SC. Runner up was the popular veteran national team member Sarah Ryan in 54.79 and teenager Rebecca Creedy was third in 55.79
A new challenger emerged in the women's 100 backstroke to join the ranks of those who wish to fill the void left by long-time champion Nicole Stevenson, now retired. Danielle Lewis, from the fishing village of Port Lincoln in South Australia., won her first senior national title in 1:00.96 from Commonwealth Games gold medallist Giaan Rooney (1:01.10). Meredith Smith was third in 1:01.30.
Olympic and World Championship medallist Angela Kennedy proved herself to be Australia's best short course fly swimmer, winning the 50 butterfly in 27.57 over teenager Jordana Webb (27.75) and Kate Godfrey (27.80).
Just returned from Kuala Lumpur, Rachel Harris was the first to get anywhere near a promising distance freestyle with a winning time of 8:24.68, three seconds short of Hayley Lewis' national record in the 800 freestyle. Emily Pedrazzini was second with 8:35.58 and Charlene Bezie was third with 8:37.66.
There were no world records this night, but there was an amazing return to Perth for Scott Goodman in the men's 200 butterfly, the scene of his disqualification at the World Championships in January. With only three weeks training since then, Scott did it all from memory (or was it heart) to be exactly one second outside his Australian record with 1:55.79. Greg Shaw was second with 1:56.54. The same fate was not to befall the other comeback in this event, Scott Miller, in third with 1:57.02. The Olympic silver medallist in Atlanta missed selection for Hong Kong.
Daniel Budgeon won the men's 800 freestyle, a non selection event, in 8:01.71
In the men's 100 breaststroke, Olympian Jade Winter exploded from the block to lead Phil Rogers and Nic Stoel at the first 25. It was still Winter in 28.07 at the 50, with Rogers pressing hard ahead of Regan Harrison. Rogers turned first at 75 and held Winter off to win the title in 59.93.Winter was second in 1:00.44 and Ryan Mitchell was third in 1:00.97.
It was an Australian record for Matthew Dunn in the 100 individual medley with his 54.73, with Robert van der Zant second in 55.35 and Justin Norris third in 56.30.
And it was another Australian record for Lori Munz, this time in the 100 individual medley, with 1:01.33. Anna Windsor was second in 1:03.05, and Bianca Jones was third 1:03.24. Always the leader in this sprint medley, Lori Munz is proving to be the "ironwoman" of the championships, having already won the 100 freestyle and placed in a number of events. She has spent the last two seasons concentrating on surf swimming, but is proving better suited to sprint swimming in the pool rather than endurance events in the Pacific Ocean.
In the women's 400 freestyle, Rachel Harris won her second distance title with 4:09.85, but was pushed all the way by Sarah-Jane D'Arcy, second with 4:10.46. Runner up in the 800, Emily Pedrazzini had to be content with a bronze medal, a mere 0.42 seconds behind D'Arcy with 4:10.88.
In the women's 50 freestyle, fast-finishing youngster Rebecca Creedy from the Redcliffe Club in Queensland and coached by the experienced John Rogers, overtook the "ironwoman" Lori Munz to win with 25.44. Munz was second with 25.77. Creedy's time was just two hundredths of a second off the Australian record. Third place went to experienced sprinter and former US college swimmer and Carlile swimmer Melanie Dodd with 26.00.
The rising distance star of world swimming, 18-year-old Grant Hackett, established a new world record for short course freestyle with a sub-14:20.00 swim on the final night of the 1998 Telstra Australian SC Swimming Championships. The time, an incredible 14:19.55, was almost seven seconds under Kieren Perkins' mark of 14:26.52.
The championships were held in the indoor pool at the Challenge Stadium, the same venue for the 1998 FINA World Championships at which Hackett won the 1500 world championship last January. Coached by Denis Cotterell on Queensland's Gold Coast, Hackett was under the existing record splits from the first 100 and realized from the crowd's reaction at 500 that he was on world-record pace.
As the race progressed, he went further ahead of Perkins' splits and never looked in danger of missing the record, to the delight of the Perth crowd that had become used to world records after Day 1 when Matthew Dunn established a new world record in the 400 individual medley. On the second day of the meet, Ian Thorpe also broke a world record in the 400 freestyle.
|Hackett||Perkins 1993 record splits|
Kieren Perkins had returned home the previous day due to illness. Daniel Kowalski assumed his consistent role of silver medallist in 14:43.74, ahead of 18-year-old Daniel Budgeon with 15:13.22.
Australian Swimming selected a team of 45 swimmers to contest the 1999 Short Course World Championships in Hong Kong under the guidance of Head Coach Don Talbot and 10 assistant coaches.