1999 Short Course World Swimming Championships
Day 3


Nick Thierry

Disqualifications marred the third finals session: a winning relay team's joy was deflated when they were disqualified for an early takeover; a second-place 400 freestyle swimmer found out after the race that she had false-started, and a swimmer fell off the block and was told to leave the pool.

On the other hand, Great Britain had much to celebrate as its swimmers picked up two golds and a bronze to take the spotlight off the Australians temporarily.

The men's 100 I.M. was the first final. It was an easy win for Jani Sievinin (FIN), who took the lead from the start and and powered to a body-length win with 54.18. The rest of the field bunched together, fighting it out for the remaining medals. Matthew Dunn (AUS) took the silver with 54.77 and Jakob Andersen (DEN) the bronze with 55.05.

Sievinen was generally pleased. "It was great to set the championship record and I'm happy to win at my first short course championships. I feel great in the pool and enjoy the competition but I expected more spectators." It was a comment echoed by everyone as the 8000 seats were filled mostly by the swimmers, their parents, and coaches. As for paying spectators, they were scarce.

Martina Moravcova (SVK) was the class of the women's 100 I.M. and swam well ahead of the field to win in 1:00.20, her personal best and a European record, but Jenny Thompson's world and championship record of 59.30 was out of reach. Thompson scratched after her prelim swim the day before-the semi-final swims in all her sprint events were beginning to take their toll.

Martina Moravcova picks up her first world title on the way 3 at this championships
Click image for larger photo. Photo © Patrick Kramer

Moravcova, after years of playing second banana, won her first world title. "I wanted a faster time but I'm happy. I swim the 200 I.M. tomorrow and feel confident about a fast time." Lori Munz (AUS) was second with 1:01.40 and Oxana Verevka (RUS) third in 1:01.55.

The men's 100 breaststroke was a repeat win for Patrik Isaksson (SWE) but it was close. After taking the lead, he struggled at the finish to touch in 59.69. Domenico Fioravanti (ITA) closed in to touch second in 59.88 and Morgan Knabe (CAN) was third in 59.93.

Morgan Knabe bronze medal winner in the 100 breaststroke
Click image for larger photo. Photo © Patrick Kramer

"I'm not in my best shape," Isaksson said. "I wasn't even feeling that good but I went out as I fast as I could (27.67). I knew the others were catching me and I just made it."

Fioravanti swam personal bests. "I didn't expect to do as well as I did. I'm happy with the time and the silver." Knabe, who improved in every round (prelims, semis, and finals), said, "I feel great. It is my first time under one minute, and I am happy to be on the podium."

Nadezdha Chemezova (RUS) was the winner of a fierce battle in the women's 400 free. She battled for the lead throughout the race with Chen Hua (CHN), winner of the 800 the previous night. Chemezova, with great technique, lengthened her stroke toward the end and increased her kicking to surge to the wall in 4:05.23, a three-second drop from her previous best. Although Chen finished second, she was subsequently disqualified for leaving early at the start. Qin Caini (CHN) then moved up to second with 4:06.34 and Joanne Malar (CAN) moved to third with 4:06.83.

"I was really scared before the race," Chemezova said. "During warm-up I watched the Chinese and they looked very good. At the 250 mark I knew that I could really go for it."

Malar was particularly pleased. "The 400 free is a really fun event. It was also my personal best and a Canadian record. I'm having a great meet."

Sandra Volker (GER), with her superior underwater kick at the start and turn, was the class of the 50 backstroke, winning with 27.63 over Mai Nakamura (JPN) in a close 27.73. Kelli McMillan (AUS) was third with 28.29.

A happy Sandra Volker (GER) just narrowly beat out Mai Nakamura (JPN) for the gold
Click image for larger photo. Photo © Patrick Kramer

"It's a great feeling to be a world champion," Volker said. "All I wanted was to win tonight. A world record would have been a bonus." Volker has the current world mark with 27.27.

The women's 50 free was somewhat marred by Therese Alshammar (SWE) falling in the water-an automatic disqualification. (Later an even worse development was to descend on the unfortunate Swedes.) The remaining seven got off the blocks with Inge de Bruijn in the lead and winning with 24.35. Jenny Thompson (USA) placed second with 24.57 and Alison Sheppard (GBR) third with 24.97.

"I really wanted the world title," de Bruijn said. "And I finally got it. With Alshammar out, I just thought that's one less to worry about." A philosophical Thompson said, "I knew Inga would win tonight." For Alison Sheppard, just to get a medal was the goal. "I knew it was going to be hard. It just goes to show that at this level, once you make a final anything can happen."

World record holder James Hickman (GBR) was in his own class, winning the 200 fly with over a body length of clear water ahead of the rest of the field. His winning time of 1:52.71 was a championship record.

James Hickman easy winner in the 200 butterfly
Click image for larger photo. Photo © Patrick Kramer

"The past couple of days have been very up and down," Hickman said. "I've had some trouble with sickness, but I felt really good today. I had a look at the start sheet before my swim and I thought that it wouldn't be that hard to win even if you are sick. I think I won more convincingly. I am really happy about that."

Takashi Yamamoto (JPN) was second with 1:54.68 and Denis Sylantyev (UKR) was third. "I was a bit nervous after the race this morning," Yamamoto said. "I was not swimming well in the prelims, so after I got back to the hotel, I was thinking how to swim tonight. My strategy was to go a strong 100 (55.08) and build on that for a stronger second half. My time of 1:54.68 was a new Japanese record. I'm definitely better at the 200. My 100 is not good enough (52.59)."

The evening ended with the women's 4x100 free relay. Sweden took the lead with Louise Johncke's 54.73, with only Australia close behind as Lori Munz split 54.93. Johanna Sjoberg really moved the Swedes into a strong lead with her 53.55 split. Australia was still in second and Great Britain was moving up. The Swedish anchor leg-the unfortunate Therese Alshammar-split 53.69 and held off a very strong challenge by Sue Rolph, who almost made up the distance with her 53.16. The Swedes were already celebrating their second relay win when it was announced they were disqualified for Sjoberg's early start. That meant Great Britain, with 3:36.88, moved into first followed by the Netherlands with 3:39.40 and Australia with 3:39.82, moving up a spot and into the medal