1999 Short Course World Swimming Championships
Day 4


Nick Thierry

Japan claimed their second world record in the women's medley relay and two races were decided by 1/100th of a second. To bring everything to a fitting climax, Australia's men's medley relay swam to another world record in the final event.

The format of the competition changed to all finals (except the men's 50 fly semi-finals), bringing the competition to a more familiar format.

The men's 100 freestyle showcased Lars Frolander (SWE), very much the superior technician. He led after the start and gained on every turn, no doubt the result of extra work on all the component parts of this event. Frolander's time was 47.05 (22.77). Michael Klim (AUS) was second in 47.49 (23.19), a personal best, and a much improved Bart Kizierowski (POL) was third in 47.75 (23.18)

The women's 200 IM followed, a great race for Martina Moravcova (SVK) who took the lead early and increased it throughout the four strokes. Her winning margin was a body length and a half over second place. Her time of 2:08.55 bettered her own European record.

Moravcova's splits: 28.01 1:01.08 1:39.07 2:08.55

"It has been a tough meet with the addition of the semi-finals," Moravcova said. "I feel confident about the 200 free later on the program." Yana Klochkova (UKR) was second with 2:10.67 and Lori Munz (AUS) third with 2:11.48.

In the women's 100 breaststroke, Penny Heyns (RSA) took the early lead, but Masami Tanaka (JPN) gradually closed the gap on the final length to sweep all three breaststroke events. Tanaka's winning time was 1:06.38 (31.69). Heyns was second with 1:06.47 (31.35). Samantha Riley (AUS) was third with 1:07.50, well off her 1995 world record of 1:05.70.

"I was nervous," Tanaka said. "I really wanted to break the world record, so I am somewhat disappointed. I've had a great championships."

In the men's 100 backstroke, Matt Welsh (AUS) had the lead and his better underwater technique (half the distance is spent underwater kicking off the start and the turns) had him in the lead. But Rodolfo Falcon (CUB) swam faster, making up on the surface what he lost on the turns. Falcon touched ahead by 1/100th of a second in 52.44 (25.67) to Welsh's 52.45 (25.49). Marius Siembida (POL) was third in 53.27 for the second consecutive bronze for the Polish swimmers.

Close finish for Rodolfo Falcon (CUB)
Click image for larger photo. Photo © Patrick Kramer

"The time is good," Falcon said, "But the important thing is first place."

"I hit every turn," Welsh said, "And when I hit the wall at the finish, I thought I had done it. Where did Falcon come from? I guess I can't complain with second place."

Jenny Thompson (USA) won her third gold in the 100 butterfly. She was in the lead and although she struggled in the last strokes, touched in 57.65. In second was Johanna Sjoberg (SWE) with 57.74. Ayari Aoyama (JPN) was third with 58.29.

Jenny Thompson was hungry for medals in this meet
Click image for larger photo. Photo © Patrick Kramer

"I am having a hectic meet," Thompson said. "It shows in this event. I wanted to break my world record, but I've done my fair share of swimming here. I am happy with my third gold."

"I was tired," Sjoberg said. "It's good to win a silver medal and do a best time. I still have the medley relay, and hope I'm not too tired."

In the men's 200 breaststroke, Kurt Grote (USA) set the early pace, leading for the first half. Ryan Mitchell (AUS) then challenged and moved into the lead at the 150, only to have Phil Rogers (AUS), suddenly in contention in lane two, touch first, giving the Aussies their first win of the evening. Rogers' winning time was 2:08.72 and just 1/100th of a second behind, Ryan Mitchell finished second with 2:08.73. Dimitri Komornikov (RUS) finished third with 2:09.18

"It's beautiful," Rogers said. "I feel like I have been struggling for the past two years. I had absolutely no idea that I had won that. This is the biggest surprise of my career and it's a great one."

Mai Nakamura (JPN) won the 200 back in 2:06.49. She was the class of the field with over a body-length lead throughout the distance. She missed the world record but got her second gold. Helen Don-Duncan (GBR) was second with 2:08.18, a British record, with Kelly Stefanyshyn (CAN) adding the bronze with 2:09.51 to her silver in the 100 back.

Mai Nakamura (JPN) picked up 2 golds and a silver in the backstroke events
Click image for larger photo. Photo © Patrick Kramer

"I felt really stiff before my race," Nakamura said. "I spent most of my pre-race trying to relax. I still have a long way to go before proving myself to be a real world champion backstroker."

Don-Duncan's improved time was because "I didn't overkick on the first 100. I'm happy to win the silver." The men's 200 IM had James Hickman (GBR) ahead after fly and backstroke, with Matthew Dunn (AUS) moving into the lead on the breaststroke leg and holding off Hickman at the finish. Dunn's winning time was 1:55.81, with Hickman in second in 1:56.51 and Marcel Wouda (NED) third in 1:58.63.

"I thought Hickman would be farther ahead," Dunn said. "I feel fantastic to win three consecutive world championships." "I'm still working on the breaststroke," Hickman said. "It's been a really good swim and it's great to get the silver."

Martina Moravcova (SVK) won her second final in the 200 freestyle with a well-paced race in 1:56.11, her third gold of the championships. Qin Caini (CHN), a body length back, placed second in 1:57.26 and Josefin Lillhage (SWE) was third in 1:57.46.

"I never thought I'd finally see number one before my name," Moravcova said. "I'm so happy with two golds tonight." Moravcova has been close many times in the past, but never a world champion.

Strength was Mark Foster's (GBR) advantage in the 50 butterfly. He simply turned over at a faster rate than the rest of the very fast field. Foster won with 23.61, over Zhang Qiang (CHN) with 23.87 and Joris Keizer (NED) with 23.96.

"I was tired on the last few strokes," Foster said. "Actually I have been working more on my freestyle. It's good to win both."

"I was sick," Zhang said. "The silver sure feels good." He was ill for a few days before his race.

In the men's 1500, Grant Hackett tried to break his record but at the mid point he fell off the record pace and cruised to a comfortable win in 14:32.87, with Graeme Smith (GBR) in second in14:45.41 and Daniel Kowalski (AUS) third in 14:51.44.

Japan won the women's medley relay in world record time as each swimmer held on to the early lead from Mai Nakamura's backstroke leg.

The relay splits:
Mai Nakamura 59.28 back
Masami Tanaka 1:06.25 breast
Ayari Aoyama 58.45 fly
Sumika Minamoto 53.64 free

Australia finished second with 4:00.37 and Sweden third with 4:00.84. The final race of the championships was another world record for the Australian medley relay, a time of in 3:28.99, for their ninth gold and a total of 27 medals, clearly winning the championships.

The relay splits:
Matt Welsh 53.34 back
Philip Rogers 59.47 breast
Michael Klim 50.69 fly
Chris Fydler 46.38 free

Sweden was second in 3:30.32 and Great Britain third in 3:32.25.