SWIMNEWS ONLINE: January 1996 Magazine Articles

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Nick Thierry

Women's 100 butterfly: This was one of the closest finishes, with Limin Liu, CHN, 58.68, touching ahead of Susan O'Neill, AUS, 58.69, with former record holder Angela Kennedy, AUS, third in 58.74. All three medal winners bettered the old world record.

"I am very happy," Liu said. "But I think I was a little lucky. I'm glad to be ahead but we all went under the record. I usually perform better long course as I do all my training in a 50 m pool."

In fact seven of the eight finalists went under one minute, making this one of the fastest finals. Canada's Jessica Amey just missed the finals, and finished second in the B-final.

Angela Kennedy, AUS, fininshed third in the 100 fly, but just 6/100ths behind winner Limin Liu, who set new world record of 58.68, bettering Kennedy's 58.77. For larger 50k photo click on image. Photo © Ari Gomes

Men's 200 butterfly: It was an all-Australian battle as Scott Miller and Scott Goodman raced for the gold. Miller had the early lead but Goodman came on very strong in the second half and won by almost two body lengths. A comparison of their splits:

	Scott Goodman		Scott Miller
	  26.86			  25.80
	  55.99	29.13		  55.08	29.28
	1:24.89	28.90		1:25.49	30.41
	1:54.79	29.90		1:56.36	30.87

Women's 400 freestyle: It was a race between Carla Geurts, NED, who won a silver the day before in the 800 free and Claudia Poll, CRC, the new world record setter in the previous day's 200 free.

Geurts took the early lead, with Poll moving into first at the 200 and gradually easing ahead, winning by a body length.

For Poll, this was her second gold and the 4:05.18 was a championship record. Geurts swam a 4:06.20. "I started slowly," Poll explained. "Then I got my rhythm and got my second gold for my country."

The bronze went to Sarah Hardcastle, GBR, in 4:07.20. Joanne Malar, CAN, qualified second with 4:11.54, but lost contact with the leaders and finished sixth with 4:11.89.

Men's 100 freestyle: The capacity crowd of 8,000 was brought to their feet as the announcer introduced Gustavo Borges in lane three, and Fernando Scherer in lane four. Brazil's finest swimmers were about to perform in front of their fans in their best event. The crowed chanted "Bra-sil...Bra-sil" (Yes, it's spelled with an s by the cariocas).

In the prelims, Scherer's 47.74 established a championships record and the third fastest time ever. Nicknamed Xuxa, he is the crowd's favourite as he lives and trains in Brazil, while Borges has been at the University in Michigan for the past four years.

Brazilian Swimming Confederation President Coaracy Nunes, achieved the impossible.

First he bid successfully to host the championships. He convinced the sceptics that a temporary complex could be erected on Copacabana Beach and now in the premier event of the sport, two of the very best athletes in the world would perform in front of their countrymen.

Scherer and Borges went stroke for stroke and the margin of victory was only 3/100ths. They were evenly matched. Scherer won with 47.97 to Borges' 48.00. Another South American, Fernando Sanchez, VEN, completed the latin sweep of the medals.

This would be the second gold for Brazil at the championships. When presented with the medals, the organizers would only play each national anthem for 10-15 seconds. But now, the Brazilian anthem was played in full, the crowd savouring every detail, singing along.

"There was such high expectancy regarding the winner," Gustavo Borges said. "We both wanted to win. At the 75 metres I was in the lead, but Fernando touched ahead. I wanted to improve my time, which I did. The medals are what's important. I'm proud that three South Americans went to the podium. The crowd was so enthusiastic."

For Scherer, concentration was the key. "In the last 15 metres I didn't want to know anything. I just took a deep breath and didn't look at my opponents. Before the race, I turned on my Walkman to shut out the noise of the crowd, and not to lose my concentration. Beating Gustavo in the final of a major international event is never easy. He's so well prepared. But it shows how Brazilian swimming is growing."

Unheralded Francisco Sanchez, is 20 years-old and trains in Tempe, Arizona under Ron Johnson. "I was nervous," he said. "I was racing against two of the best sprinters in the world. I'm glad with my time of 48.46 and most of all with my medal."

Women's 100 breaststroke: There never was much doubt about another gold for Samantha Riley, AUS, in this event. Could she get another record?

She attacked right from the first stroke, gained an immediate lead that was almost a body length at the 50 m mark where she split 31.23, over a second faster than the old record split of 32.47. When she touched the finish, the time was a stunning 1:05.70, another new world record.

Australia's Samantha Riley swam to two world records and won three gold medals. For larger 50k photo click on image. Photo © Ari Gomes

It was the single best performance of the championships. "I was surprised with my time," Samantha said. "I think it's a bit of a mystery how I could swim so fast. I remember in 1993, at the Palma Championships, when China's Guohong Dai swam 1:06.58, and I was third with 1:07.77 I was amazed at her time. I asked myself 'How can anyone swim so fast?'

"We're only at the Second World Championships, and in six years time today's results may be considered unimportant.

"I think the new FINA measures around drug use are a small improvement. I've always been vocal about the drug problem. In my opinion, a guilty athlete should never be allowed to compete again.

"The crowd here was amazing. They really motivate the athletes to perform. My race came after Scherer and Borges, which was great to see and hear.

"After these championships I will train once a day for two weeks and then resume normal training. Australia now has a great team. I hope we keep the spirit until the Olympics." Canada's two breaststrokers missed out on the podium. Lisa Flood finished fourth in 1:08.89, and Guylaine Cloutier was sixth with 1:09.29.

Men's 200 breaststroke: After only finishing seventh in the 100, China's Yiwu Wang had a chance in this one, especially as he qualified first. He swam the better second half, edging out Ryan Mitchell, AUS, 2:11.11 to 2:11.46. Wang's previous best international performance was a gold in the 1994 Asian Games in this same event.

Yiwu Wang, wins the first men's gold in the 200m breaststroke for the Chinese team. For larger 50k photo click on image. Photo © Ari Gomes

Women's 4x100 free relay: China flexed a bit of muscle and won the only relay they contested. They took the lead after Na Chao leadoff in 54.47, holding a small lead over Australia. Jingyi Le anchored with 53.00 to give them a two-body-length margin.

China's Na Chao leadoff 4x100m free relay with a time of 54.47. For larger 50k photo click on image. Photo © Ari Gomes

Canada improved the national record by three seconds but missed the podium, finishing fourth. At the 300 metre mark they were in second place, but Joanne Malar's anchor leg of 55.87 was slower than Australia's Susan O'Neill split of 53.92, which moved them into second. Sweden's Louise Johncke 55.16, just touched ahead of Canada.

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