Ryk Neethling stormed to victory and a world record in the 100m medley on day one of the World Cup meet in Berlin. The twenty-seven year old who was a member of South Africa's gold medal winning relay at the Olympic Games in Athens last summer was down Thomas Rupprath at the half way stage. Rupprath stronger over the first part of his race turned in 23;67sec inside world record pace. But once into the breaststroke it was Neethling's race he sprinted down the final freestyle leg to touch home in 52;11sec to shave two fifths off the figures his fellow team mate Roland Schoeman set in Stockholm just four days earlier. Neethling claimed, "I knew I could do a World record. If Roland Schoeman would have qualified for the final, I think I could have done even better. We both train together, we push us on and we help each other."
Schoeman got the meet off to the best start possible when he stormed to 46;25sec in the opening race to equal the world record held by Ian Crocker. One-fifth outside the world record in Stockholm four days earlier he stormed off the block to surface half a body length ahead from then on it was the South African against the stopwatch. His time placed him nearly one second ahead of the world short course champion Jason Lezak of the USA. Schoeman said afterwards "I know that I'm fast. I love Berlin since it is a very fast pool."
The anticipated confrontation between Schoeman who established the world record in Stockholm and Thomas Rupprath a former world record holder, in the 100m medley never materialised when Schoeman failed to qualify for the final finishing ninth. Schoeman admitted to being "I'm absolutely disappointed because I failed to qualify for the final just four days ago I set a World record."
Schoeman did make it a double victory when he out paced his rivals in the 50m butterfly with a time of 22;92.
Martina Moravcova tried to match South African's effort in the 100m butterfly turning at the half way stage inside the schedule to could not maintain her blistering pace of the second half. The Olympic silver medallist came home in 57;15sec to finish 0;78 ahead of Japan's Ayako Doi with Rachel Komisarz of the USA a further three tenths behind. Moravcova admitted afterwards "This was my best time so far in this year's World Cup season. I've made so many mistakes today and I'm not happy at all". She went on to explain, "It began with the start and continued with the turns. I'm quite an experienced swimmer but butterfly events are difficult since the technique is so important and very small mistakes will be punished."
It was a day for chasing world marks for in the 100m backstroke Thomas Rupprath of Germany, used his start and turn to be 0;06 inside the world split at 50m. But the double Olympic medallist Markus Rogan of Austria closed down on the second half to record the same time as Rupprath of 51;16sec. Rupprath explained his slipping off the pace "After the first 50m I was u7nder the World record split. But after that I lost stamina. Bearing in mind the training phase (he has just returned from a training camp with the German team in Grand Canaria) the time today is not that bad. However, Markus has failed again to go ahead of me". Rogan was much more content with his performance saying, "I could have been a bit faster but after all, Thomas and I we've both clocked the same time. Perhaps next time I'll be the one to be ahead of Thomas".
Ed Moses the world record for the 100 and 200m breaststroke suffered a rare defeat over the 200m distance. Earlier in the programme the world record holder Oleg Lisogor of Ukraine piped him to the post. Liogor's time of 26;57sec was 0;37 outside his best but 0;25 ahead of his American rival. Lisogor claimed afterwards "I feel much better than at the end of last year. I wanted to test my speed. However, my main competition will be the Ukrainian trials at the end of April".
Just over one hour later Moses was back in the water for the long distances he pushed the pace along over the first six lengths with Australian Jim Piper on his shoulders. Piper looked the more comfortable and with less than 50m to go made his effort for victory and smoothly moved ahead to establish a Commonwealth record of 2min 04;03sec breaking the one set fourteen months ago by Ian Edmonds.
World record holder Theresa Alshammar sprinted to victory in the 50m freestyle in 24;03sec to lower the World Cup record set in the same pool two years ago by Alison Sheppard the Commonwealth champion. Alshammar claimed "Of course I know that today's performance would gain a lot of points with regard to the overall World Cup ranking however, I'm not swimming because of the money I'm swimming because of the fun."