World Cup Farce Ends With 3 More 'WRs'
Nov 22, 2009 - Craig Lord
The curtain fell on the suit-boosted 2009 World Cup Series with three more world records that owed much to what the swimmer was wearing.
The tally of world records set (a handful never ratified) since February 2008 now stands at 234, 126 of those set this year alone and 37 set during the past few weeks of the world cup tour. The value of a world record has been greatly diminished in the midst of the worst thing to have happened to the sport since Dr Lothar Kipke was sticking needles full of steroids into young kids in the German Democratic Republic with official permission under the auspices of State Plan 14:25.
The good news in the mix is that swimmers got some good money - and will get the same good money next world cup season as far as overall prizes are concerned (world record bonuses will be a little harder to come by - which is how it should be):
The World Cup Winners 2009 Series:
Van Der Burgh retains the "crown", while Hardy has reaped rich rewards in her first season back from a doping suspension that she contested, arguing that the banned substance was contained in a food supplement that had more in it that it stated on the tin.
The first mark in Singapore was extraordinary and there is only one way to report it:
The 400m medley world s/c record stood at 4:27.83 to quadruple Olympic medley champion Yana Klochkova (UKR) on the eve of the shiny suit era 22 months ago. At the time, only four women had ever dipped below 4:30 and 18-year-old Kathryn Meaklim set a best time of 4:36.62. A year ago, a 4:25.06 granted Mireia Belmonte (ESP) the European s/c crown and world record at suit-soaked Rijeka. Today in Singapore, Meaklim clocked 4:22.88 to lead a list of 15 women now inside 4:30. In Rome back in July, she clocked 4:51.09 at l/c worlds to finish 31st.
The splits compared:
The key to getting past Belmonte was the breaststroke leg, which may also explain how later in the session, Meaklim - suited in apparel that reduces fatigue and appears to make multiple-event racing somewhat less arduous than it once was - managed to finished ahead of Sarah Katsoulis and Leisel Jones, of Australia, in the 200m breaststroke, the South African's time 2:20.52. That's was a step up from the best she set 10 days ago in Stockholm, of 2:22.07, which followed a previous season best of 2:28.35.
Meaklim raced in Berlin a week ago, and perhaps it was part of strategy and perhaps it was part of taper. I was there when Meaklim swam in a traditional singlet textile suit in the 200m medley. She clocked 2:24.49 for 41st, or last place. And over 400m she donned a speedy suit and clocked 4:39.21, to fally a place shy of making the final. The 200m effort looked deliberate, though she looked a little overweight (relative to her sport, for clarity) and a little unfit. A week later, she is by far the fastest 400m medley woman in the world and just shy of 4sec faster than Kirsty Coventry (ZIM) claimed the world title 18 months ago in world-record time.
With all due respect to a swimmer racing in legal suit conditions and playing her part in a farce of FINA's making (and FINA will end the farce soon), Meaklim goes down as the speediest shiny suit 400m medley woman in the world, but not the fastest woman swimmer over 400m medley. Her achievement, like so many, reflects a tale of two sports, the one she leads in about to become extinct as the historic sport of swimming is revived from January 1, 2010.
The second world mark fell to Peter Marshall (USA), up from a best of 22.73 to 22.61 in the 50m backstroke, and the third fell from 24.46 to the holder of the 50m 'fly standard, Therese Alshammar (SWE), in 24.38.
In the men's 1,500m free, Robert Hurley (AUS) clocked 14:32.47 to roar ahead of Olympic champion Oussama Mellouli (TUN), on 14:56.31 for second. Libby Tricket's world mark in the 100m free came under fire but stood by 0.18sec, the crown in Singapore going to Fran Halsall (GBR) in 51.19, a European record inside the 51.61 she set 10 days ago in Stockholm.
The 200m free went to Darian Townsend (RSA) in 1:41.65, the 50m breaststroke to Jessica Hardy (USA) in 29.09 and the 100m breaststroke to Cameron Van Der Burgh in 56.25. Mitchell Patterson (AUS) claimed a 49.51 win in the 100m 'fly and Marieke Guehrer (AUS) clocked 56.97 in the 100m backstroke to keep Lizzie Simmonds (GBR) at bay by 0.13sec.
Jess Schipper (AUS) claimed the 200m 'fly in 2:03.27, Townsend added the 200m medley to his haul in 1:52.49, and Blair Evans (AUS) won the 400m free in 4:02.77. The men's 50 'fly went to Nicholas Dos Santos (BRA) in 20.75, the 100m medley to Hinkelien Schreuder (NED) in 58.32 and the 200m backstroke to Arkady Vyatchanin (RUS) in 1:46.41 before Alshammar brought the series to a close with a speedy sledgehammer.