BARCELONA - The largely European crowd was rowdier than previous nights, complete with flags, balloons, noise makers, and the steady beat of war drums. While neither swimmer made finals, Greece had two young swimmers in tonight's semi-finals. Zoi Dioschaki just missed a shot at the big final with her 9th place swim of 1:59.93 in the women's 200 free and Ionnis Drymonakos finished 12th in the men's 200 fly. Look out for both swimmers next year as they'll have everything to prove in their home pool.
Mark Warnecke, (GER) the '96 Olympic bronze medallist in the 100 breast, used his 33 years of experience to win semi-final number 1 in a 27.91. He was followed by Darren Mew (GBR) who improved well from the heats to qualify for the final in fourth.
In the second semi-final James Gibson (GBR) broke Oleg Lisogor's (RUS) meet record with a 27.46. He was a full stroke ahead of Lisogor who finished with a 27.86. Gibson looks much more powerful than the rest of the competitors.
By 300 metres, reigning champion Hannah Stockbauer's (GER) lead was never in dispute. With every lap her lead grew in what many thought would be a much tighter race. Her final time was a meet record of 16:00.18, narrowly missing the chance to crack the 16 minute barrier. Hayley Peirsol (USA) picked up the silver, dropping 11 seconds from her previous best set in the heats. Veteran Jana Henke (GER) swam the perfect race for third. Her time of 16:10.13 was her lifetime best. At 29, Henke's success is quite spectacular.
Canadian swimmer Brittany Reimer finished 6th in the final and managed to lowered her own National Record set just yesterday in the 1500 free heats by 23/100ths to a time of 16:15.98.
It's almost as if Ian Thorpe (AUS) wishes he could re-create the good old days when he had people to race. It goes down the same way each time, he hangs with the pack then turns on the jets with a 50 to go. This time he finished with a 1:45.14, and Pieter van den Hoogenband (NED) didn't stand a chance, barely holding off a fast finishing Grant Hackett (AUS) 1:46.43 to 1:46.85.
But through it all, Thorpe still cherishes each win, signing the words along with his national anthem each time it's played. "It was an average time, but I'm very happy with the result," said Thorpe. "I was aware of where Pieter was the whole time, but I wanted to concentrate on my own swim and not worry about where he was."
The new world record holder was last off the blocks and only third to the wall. After a stunning swim last night Leisel Jones (AUS) managed only a 1:07.42, leaving the way open for defending champ Xuejuan Luo (CHN) to win in a personal best time of 1:06.80. "This is the most difficult championship for me since the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney," said Xuejuan. "I felt under pressure but I was confident that I could win. Confidence is the most important thing."
Amanda Beard (USA), in her lifetime best, won the silver in a 1:07.42, proving once again if you want to win a medal (Thorpedo aside) you have to swim your best. "That was my best time and you can't ask for anything better than that," said Beard. "I'll be on the award stand and that is great!"
So close! Aaron Peirsol,(USA) inspired by his sister's silver medal in the 1500 moments earlier, missed the world record by just 1/100th of a second touching in 53.61. Peirsol let Matt Welsh (AUS) take out the race just under world record pace. But by 75 the race belonged to Peirsol as Welsh tightened up and allowed Arkady Vyatchanin (RUS) to catch and tie him for the silver medal in 53.92.
"At the 50 metre mark I knew I was in a good position," said Peirsol. "I went out well, and I came back so incredibly fast. I did what I wanted to do." Peirsol's swim was over half a second better than his previous life time best, the same for Vyatchanin.
Lindsay Benko (USA) wasn't quite as dominating as this morning, however she still managed a 1:59.13 and lane four qualification for tomorrow night's final. In second and third were Elka Graham (AUS) and Solenne Figues (FRA) in 1:59.37 and 1:59.38 respectively.
Michael Phelps (USA), the humble young man who is quickly becoming more exciting to watch than Ian Thorpe, lowered his world record yet again this time to a 1:53.93. His last 50, always the most spectacular, was a 29.65-that's faster than the 8th place swimmer finished the last 50 of the men's 200 freestyle in tonight's final.
"I haven't done a best time in the 200 fly in two years [since breaking the world record] so that was the goal going into the race, and I did it, goal completed."
Stephan Parry (GBR) swam his best time and a new Commonwealth record to qualify tied for second with Takashi Yamamoto (JPN) in 1:55.90.
Two more great swims were put in by Katy Sexton (GBR) and Louise Ornstedt (DEN) who tied for silver in 1:00.86. Yes, that's two ties for second in the same event, men's and women's 100 back. "I hadn't expected this result," said Ornstedt. "During the race, I didn't know where I was. I wasn't thinking about medals, only about my time. I would have been too nervous otherwise."
|Swimming Medals as of July 22|