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Some Missing In (Loo) Roll Call For Heats

Oct 7, 2010  - Craig Lord

Commonwealth Games, Delhi, day 4 heats:

Hayden Stoeckel, the Aussie backstroke ace who two days ago looked to be in fab form but last night looked to be struggling, is the latest big name in the pool to succumb to whatever stomach complaint is afflicting shoals of folk here. He joins Andrew Lauterstein on the Aussie sick list. A Canada team source also confirmed that "several" team members had suffered stomach upsets.

The toilets at the Dr S P Mukherjee pool are not flowing this morning, at least not with water. There's a team trying to fix the lack of water supply. They're doing their best. Shame that we can't say the same about Games bosses, who need to realise that the modern competitive environment must come with a world-class guarantee on all fronts, wherever you decide to plant your flag for two weeks every four years.

I bumped into veteran coach Dave Haller, who was there at world titles in Cali, Colombia, and Guayaquil, Ecuador, when the meet was somewhat decided on a count of stomach cramps. Britain avoided the drop in Cali, not in Guayaquil. Some of it is down to discipline, some the luck of the draw. But when you can't wash your hands for lack of water and a clean toilet at the race venue, patience starts to run dry too. Humour remains. Haller found himself asking Welsh medley ace and personal charge Thomas Haffield "have you managed to go to the toilet this morning?" 

Haffield, who has had a disturbing rumble or two but is still on his feet,  smiled and offered reassurance that nature had called before they'd left the village. Phew! "In 44 years of coaching, I can't recall ever having to ask a swimmer if they'd been to the loo. It was like I was talking to a 12-year-old," laughed Haller before confirming that "a lot" of swimmers have gone down in the past week but had been forced to endure for 24 to 48 hours and get back on their feet. "There are always challenges," he said. "But it's been hard here."

After her collapse at the end of the 100m 'fly semi last night, England's Fran Halsall is on her feet this morning but was to be forgiven for arriving just half an hour before the 50m free heats and then walking with a slight wobble to her blocks as if on high heels. She showed no signs of wobbling in the water: 25.05 the swiftest time of the morning by a clog. Earlier she had Tweeted: "Tummy still not fab this am. Very very very hard to get out of bed. I hope the piece of bread I had for tea gets me through the heats." The moment when world-class sport meets the sick bay. Perhaps they could have a race for those who need to bring a drip feed to the blocks with them.

The blocked "bogs", as Halsall put it, had flowing water restored by the time the heats ended, sanit[ar]y restored.

Heats summaries

Men's 50m breaststroke

Glenn Snyders (NZL) recovered from disappointment in the 100m final last night to take the helm of those going through to semis of the dash, his 28.15 0.31sec up on Brenton Rickard (AUS), who in turn was 0.01sec ahead of Daniel Sliwinski (ENG). World champion Cameron Van Der Burgh (RSA), 100m champ last night, was safety through in fifth on 28.73, Sandeep Sejwal on 28.58 and wowing a home crown by pipping the South African on cruise control in  heat 2. The 2006 champion Chris Cook (ENG) retired after the 2008 Olympic Games.

Women's 50m backstroke

World champion Gemma Spofforth woke the place up with a 28.30 Games record in the first, development, her place alongside swimmers from India and Antigua, on 31 an 32sec, a question of her having had no entry time to put in to the 50m this season. Good to see Spofforth, second in the 100m yesterday, well on the way to recovery after having worked through her own bout of sickness earlier in the week. Missing from action in a heat with her name on a lane this morning was teammate Elizabeth Simmonds, though the 200m ace had said before the Games that the dash was not part of her programme.

"That was the perfect way to recover from my disappointment yesterday, a new Games Record in my fun event," said Spofforth. "It felt much better. I felt more excitement and motivation and it showed in my swimming. It’s a great way to start the rest of the meet. I’ve still got more medals that I’m targeting and I feel right back in it with that swim. Everyone on the England team is feeling really positive at the half way point and I wanted to show that today."

Spofforth emerged from her race to say that she had never at a meet before heard so many swimmers in the call room talking about being homesick and wishing they could leave. That, she noted, could well play into the hands of those teams like Australia and England that have support networks around them, props to right and left when they need them.

Emily Seebohm (AUS) 100m champion yesterday a touch ahead of Spofforth, followed her rival through to the dash semis, on 28.72, with teammate Grace Loh on 28.78 and winner of the 100m bronze Julia Wilkinson (CAN) on 29.04 ahead of defending champion Sophie Edington (AUS) on 29.07.

Men's 100m butterfly

Geoff Huegill (AUS), 2000 Olympic bronze medallist, threw down the gauntlet with a 52.87 blast in heat 3 ahead of Andrew Mayor (SCO), Rebecca Adlington's former boyfriend, on 53.94, before Chris Wright (AUS) split the difference in the next heat, on 53.89. Heat 5 brought a 54.19 from defending champion Ryan Pini (PNG) ahead of Michael Rock (ENG), on 54.42, and 50m champion last night Jason Dunford (KEN), on 54.85. The top 16 cut 56.55.

Women's 100m breaststroke

Kate Haywood (ENG) led the way on 1:08.37, followed by three Aussies, Sam Marshall, Sarah Katsoulis and Olympic champion Leisel Jones. Canadians Martha McCabe and Annamay Pierse went through safely at ease. No major casualties. No shows were Erica Morningstar (CAN) and Natalie Wiegersma (NZL).

Men's 100m backstroke

Marco Loughran (WAL) set the pace at 54.95 in heat 2, Danierl Arnamart (AUS) responded in 55.63 in the next heat before the 4th heat saw Daniel Bell (NZL) get the touch 55.03 to 55.15 over defending champion Liam Tancock, his England teammate Chris Walker-Hebborn just 0.03sec away. All at ease. No Hayden Stoeckel, the latest Aussie victim of Delhi belly. Pretty much all of Australia's backstroke force have suffered at some stage, to join a list of casualties, most now recovered and back in the swim, that includes Ryan Napoleon, Marieke Guehrer, Ashley Delaney and coach Matt Brown.

Women 50m freestyle

The morning after the night on which she had to be hauled from the water to prevent her from fainting, Francesca Halsall (ENG) looked a little pale and weak, though much improved from the shivering wreck that stood before us yesterday in the wake of a 100m free final that delivered bronze not the gold she was capable of fully fit and a missed opportunity, via a 10th place in 100 'fly semis that ought to have placed her in the fight for another gold. A different day, another experience, life in a hard lane, the staple of most who live hereabouts.

On a slice of toast and some fluids and having got to the pool half an hour before her race, remarkable that Halsall could manage to crack out a 25.05 to lead the way through to semis. Yolane Kukla (AUS) followed in 25.47, her teammate Marieke Guehrer - having come through the sickness that has become the backdrop to the swimming at these Games, afflicting as it has at least a third of world-class athletes for between 24 and 72 hours at some stage in the past week - third through on 25.55. Victoria Poon (CAN) clocked 25.60 ahead of Amy Smith (ENG) and Alice Mills (AUS), on 25.67 and 25.73 respectively.

Men's 400m medley

The only final of the morning to lead to a final to be held the same day, the long medley was an uneasy affair. Top time through was a 4:18.46 by Riaan Schoeman (RSA) at a cruise in heat 4, while Britain teammates Joe Roebuck (ENG) and Lewis Smith (SCO) were close by on a matched 4:18.56 in heats 5 and 6 respectively. The final is completed by Thomas Haffield (WAL), Chad Le Clos (RSA), Roberto Pavoni (ENG), Thomas Fraser-Holmes (AUS) and Brian Johns (CAN), whose 4:23.64 locked out teammate Robert Ford by 0.03sec, Justin Hadler (AUS) the other casualty, on 4:27.73, among those who had a hope of making it through.