SWIMNEWS ONLINE: September 1998 Magazine Articles

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Day Two - September 13

World Record For Australia


Craig Lord

Boy wonder was back the second day of swimming to have another go at Lamberti's standard. It was not to be-but he would nevertheless end the day as the youngest man to hold a world record since Stephen Holland in 1973, courtesy of a 7:11.86 world record in the 4 x 200 freestyle relay on a night when every title went the way of the green and gold shoal. Thorpe (1:47.48) fell half a second shy of his personal target but was well up on the world record pace set by the former Soviet team when it won the Olympic title at Barcelona in 1992. Daniel Kowalski (1:47.81) and Matthew Dunn (1:49.15) followed through, before a below-best Michael Klim (1:47.42) dug deep to bring the 4 x 200 record back to Australia for the first time in 28 years-and by just 0.09 seconds.

The team's effort helped to relieve Klim's coach Gennadi Touretski of the burden of successes past; the Russian had coached the Olympic champions of 1992 before leaving to head the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra.

Matthew Dunn, fourth ranked in the world in the 400 individual medley, sacrificed an almost certain gold medal in that event to concentrate his energies on the relay. That left the 400 IM an open battle between England's James Hickman and Australians Trent Steed and Zane King.

A lesser man than Hickman, 22, might have crumbled, not because of the pressure for someone to break the Australian nerve, but because he had had to conquer the disillusionment of having been thrown out of the 100 butterfly final for what the referee deemed to be a "deliberate" false start. The interpretation of that rule, rather than its wording, came just 40 minutes before the medley final. "I tried to explain to him that it wasn't deliberate," said Hickman of Tan Eng Chai, the referee. "I heard a clicking noise behind me and I was really hyped. I just went" Hickman explained, before adding, "It was surreal. I just couldn't believe he was pulling me from the race. I was just glad Terry was there to say 'forget it, you've got another race to think about.'"

Having turned three metres behind Steed going into the freestyle leg, Hickman steadily cut the deficit before a sensational last turn that left him at Steed's waist. Hickman battled every inch of the way down the final 50 metres but the wall came 0.28 seconds too soon for victory, though he was 1.37 seconds inside his own British record in 4:20.17. Though England did not protest about the false start, Canada and Australia want FINA to look again at the rule book. One official said, "At one meet, it's applied, at another ignored. The wording is not at all easy. We don't want to get to Sydney and find we don't know how to use this rule."

Geoff Huegill, AUS, won the 100 butterfly
Click image for larger photo. Photo © Dan Helms

Hickman's removal from the butterfly gave Australia its second 1-2-3 in the pool. Geoff Huegill claimed his first Commonwealth title in 52.89, a Games record, with Adam Pine and Klim, the struggling world champion, third. Days later, Hickman said he had proved a point by clocking the fastest butterfly split in the medley relay in 52.22.

Courtney Chuy embracing Lauren van Oosten after 200 breaststroke final
Click image for larger photo. Photo © Dan Galbraith

The script went according to form in other races. Sam Riley (2:27.30) defended her 200 breaststroke title and Susie O'Neill won the first of six titles, in the 200 freestyle (2:00.24) over England's Karen Pickering (2:01.19) and Canada's Jessica Deglau (2:01.59).

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