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Phelps Gets Briefs In A Twist: AUS To Rescue

Jul 27, 2011  - Craig Lord

Day 4 prelims, Oriental Sports Center, Shanghai

Michael Phelps left a press conference late last night jesting and mumbling something about "another race in the morning" after coach Bob Bowman reminded him of the next clash with Ryan Lochte looming. The multiple Olympic champion's forgetfulness extended to his briefs: a photo at universal sports has the great one diving into the warm-up pool boasting "AUS" on his backside. 

Could it be that he was contemplating dropping the stripes for the southern stars? Apparently not. The briefs belonged to Eamon Sullivan. 

"Had to loan forgetful @MichaelPhelps my training togs for his warm up tonight. Hope they bring good luck buddy... PS - you can keep them!," Sullivan Tweeted before the 200m free final. A little later, he added: "About as close as you will ever see @MichaelPhelps swimming for Australia!"

Back to the race pool and Phelps progressed comfortably to the semis of the 200m medley this morning, with defending champion Ryan Lochte USA) easing his way through the morning, Thiago Pereira (BRA) at the helm.

Lochte was involved in a bike accident with Brit swimmer Marco Loughran this year. Both left the roadside a little mauled and nursing some minor internal injuries, “Luckily no-one got seriously injured,” said Lochte, who had some kind words for his other British friend over at the Florida Gators, Gemma Spofforth, after she got sick and sat up in the stands to see her 100m backstroke crown pass to Zhao Jing last night.

Lochte said: "She is one of my good friends. In the States no matter what I can count on her. She is always there. She is probably one of the nicest, sweetest girls ever. It stinks she got sick but she is a racer, she can bounce back from it and hopefully what I did can push her forward."

After 50m back heats this morning, Spofforth responded in kind, saying: "He is one of the best people. He has been one of my biggest role models ever since I got to Florida and he trains amazingly so it is really good to have someone like that behind you."

Spofforth is working on a book, tentatively called "Dealing With It", in which she hopes to help others who have gone through a rough time in life, to understand that their feelings in the depths of depression are valid. "Sometimes I have thought that the best way to deal with it is not to be here at all," said Spofforth. "But I came through it. 

The men's 100m freestyle heats featured defending champion Cesar Cielo, the Brazilian racing here after CAS upheld a warning handed down by domestic anti-doping authorities in the wake of a adverse finding for furosemide, a banned diuretic, in a test sample back in May (the same positive showed for three of his teammates too). Cielo was safely through to semis in fourth. 

Meanwhile, no clarification yet from CAS on its reason to reject a call by FINA for a three-month ban. SwimNews has been told that the case may have tipped on an issue related to the chain of command in samples from test site to lab. That seems hard to fathom, for if the result of a test is questionable because of potential contamination then a warning would surely have been less likely than "you're free to go". CAS will issue its full report in "weeks".

The biggest casualty of the morning so far: Marco di Carli, of Germany, who arrived in Shanghai the swiftest in the world so far this season over 100m free but this morning clocked 49 flat and found himself  6th in the last heat for 19th overall.

Omega was in much demand this morning as reporters asked the question: why can't we know which of the Frenchmen got the touch to 0.000 of a second in the 100m back final last night. Athletics and cycling measure to 0.000 - why not swimming? Answer: air is thinner than water. Two reasons for not taking a peek at the 0.000: FINA rules count to 0.00 (how unfair would it be to reveal the swimmer with the 0.001 advantage or disadvantage...) and it does so because at 0.000 there is a risk that the pressure of a bow wave and swell as big sprinters crash towards the wall may vary from lane to lane and the lower below zero you go the more sensitive the timing pads are to influence beyond the way an athlete makes impact with the pad. However that all works, the shared gold for Gaul's Camille Lacourt and Jeremy Stravius at 0.00 is the way to go.

Prelim reports

Women's 50m backstroke

The morning after taking silver in the 100m backstroke - just 0.01sec away from gold - Anastasia Zueva (RUS) went through to semis at the helm, of the event and heat 6,  on 28.20 ahead of Zhou Yanxin (CHN), 0.04sec away. They raced knowing there were two heats to come. Elizabeth Pelton (USA) took heat 7 in 28.35, while Gao Chang (CHN) was a fingertip ahead of Aya Terakawa (JPN) and Melissa Franklin (USA), 28.27, 28.34, 28.37.

Qualifiers: 28.20 - 28.84 - Zueva, Zhou, Gao, Terakawa, Pelton, Franklin, Herasimenia, Seebohm, Davies, Peris, Drakou, Wilkinson, Avramova, Moskvina, Spofforth, Mensing

Men's 100m freestyle

It was heat 9 before the pace got hot enough to break 50sec and heat 11 of 14 before the big guns took to their blocks, Gideon Louw (RSA) setting the pace at 48.74 with 24 men remaining to chase after a place in the top 16. 

William Meynard (FRA) left nothing to chance with a 48.14 at the helm of heat 12, defending champion and world record holder Cesar Cielo (BRA) on 48.41, Fabien Gilot giving  Gaul a second bite in 48.41, Nikita Lobintsev (RUS) and Konrad Czerniak (POL) also inside 49.

The fastest man ever in a textile suit, from that winning relay on day 1 for Australia, arrived poolside for his next big moment. There was no sign of unease as James Magnussen, 20, clocked 48.21 ahead of Adrey Grechin (RUS), 48.59, and Sebastiaan Verschuren (NED), on 48.60,. with Nathan Adrian (USA) 0.02sec away and Park Tae-hwan (KOR) on 48.91. 

The last heat understood the need to crack 49.00. Precisely on that mark was Marco di Carli (GER), fastest man in the world this season coming into the championships but 6th in his heat and out of the semis. The 2007 joint world champions Filippo Magnini (ITA), on 48.36, and Brent Hayden (CAN), on 48.75, made the cut, with Graeme Moore (RSA) squeezed between them. Luca Dotto made is two through for Italy in 48.79, with James Roberts giving the Dolphins a double hand and slamming the door at 48.93.

Qualifiers: 48.14 - 48.93 - Meynard, Magnussen, Magnini, Cielo, Gilot, Grechin, Verschuren, Adrian, Moore, Louw, Hayden, Lointsev, Dotto, Park, Czerniak, Roberts

Women's 200m butterfly 

The third of five heats featured Teresa Crippen (USA), sister of Fran and a constant reminder of all that went so tragically wrong in the FINA world when the open water swimmer became the first athlete to die on the international federation's watch, in a 10km race off the coast of the United Arab Emirates. 

Teresa Crippen clocked 2:08.63 for second place in a blanket finish, world s/c champion Mireia Belmonte (ESP) on 2:08.34, Britain's Jemma Lowe on 2:08.67, Audrey Lacroix (CAN) on 2:08.88 and 2004 Olympic champion and former world champion Otylia Jedrzejczak (POL) on 2:09.01 at her first big meet on the comeback trail.

Natsumi Hoshi (JPN) took the pace on to a 2:07.34 at the helm of the next heat, with Zsuzsanna Jakabos (HUN) close by on 2:07.60, before Stephanie Rice and Jessica Schipper, of Australia, on 2:08.43 and 2:08.62, came in either side of a 2:08.47 for Olympic silver medallist Jiao Liuyang (CHN).

A great cheer went up at the start of the last heat as Olympic champion Liu Zige (CHN) took the plunge. She led for most of the way   and sailed through to the semis, though Kathleen Hersey (USA) and Ellen Gandy (AUS) got the edge on her in the closing 20m of the heat, their respective times 2:07.91 and 2:08.14 to 2:08.28 for Liu.

Qualifiers: Hoshi, Jakabos, Hersey, Gandy, Liu, Belmonte, Rice, Jiao, Schipper, Crippen, Lowe, Lacroix, Jedrzejczak, Granstroem, Choi, Marko-Varga

Men's 200m medley

In heat 3, Thiago Pereira (BRA) led the way in 1:57.82, ahead of David Verraszto (HUN), on 1:58.69, with Kenneth To (AUS) and Markus Rogan (AUT) on 1:59.02 and 1:59.22 respectively.

Olympic champion Michael Phelps took it out steady, 5th on 'fly, 5th on backstroke, before hinting at the resolve to come with a breaststroke kick that put him back out front, freestyle a case of maintaining control, a 1:59.48 keeping him a hand ahead of Britain's James Goddard, 0.2sec away, with Darian Townsend (RSA) on 1:59.97.

Lochte used his heat to play with pace, to toy with the turn. On breaststroke he almost came to a halt in his last two strokes to the wall after 48m or fast, smooth flowing technique placed him a peg ahead of all chasing. On freestyle, as others scrambled for their place in the top 16, the world champion and record holder looked like was already in the warm-down pool so easy his passage to a another showdown with the Olympic champion the day after he had taken first blood in a bells-and-whistles 200m free final. The time, 1:59.04, Yuya Horihata (JPN) on 1:59.25, Vytautas Janusaitis (LTU) on 1:59.43. 

All safely through, while Dinko Jukic, the Austrian facing a doping hearing back home after he refused a test, did not show, ahead of the 200m butterfly final tonight.

Qualifiers: Pereira, Verraszto, To, Lochte, Rogan,  Horihata, Janusaitis, Phelps, Carvalho, Rodrigues, Goddard, Cieslak, Cseh, Townsend, Nevo, Ally