ADELAIDE - In what many thought would be a "Ho, hum!" affair with no national titles at stake and with established stars retired or in the "not going to Pan Pacs" group, Scott Goodman set the pool buzzing on the first night with a great 200 butterfly swim eclipsing Jon Sieben's twelve-year-old Commonwealth and Australian record. Then not to be outdone, the young brigade got into the spirit, beating long time champions, and swimming themselves into world and national all-time lists, some making their first senior international team.
Goodman was my male swimmer of the Meet only, slightly edging the brilliant young sprint fly swimmer Geoff Huegill into the second spot. Goodman's time of 1:56.86 elevated him to the number four position on the World All Time Best (ATB) list. For the record Scott's splits were:
50 100 150 200 26.65 56.47 1:26.35 1:56.86
Huegill, an 18 year old, beat the favourite, Michael Klim (53.03) in the 100 fly final with an impressive 52.95 (split 24.59), which also places him fourth on the World ATB list. He is coached by Ken Wood at the Redcliffe Leagues Club in Scarborough, Queensland.
The Olympic Silver Medallist, Scott Miller, had to be content with a third placing with a 54.02.
My third male swimmer award goes to Michael Klim who dominated the 100 and 200 freestyle events with best times at the meet of 49.97 and 1:48.47. The 100 time came in a time trial at the end of the meet with Klim experimenting for the first time with a submarine dolphin kick after the dive for thirty metres, as he had done in the 100 butterfly prelim and final. The verdict from nineteen-year-old Klim, "I need to work on it more in training. I felt good and fast but think I should have surfaced just a little earlier. There's no doubt that it's fast and the energy cost is low. I'm going to experiment some more."
Michael is also exploring the possibility of swimming his freestyle with a 'fishlike' action of the whole body and an alternating overarm recovery, which Coach Touretski changed to straight arm at the end of 1996.
The historians must surely be heading for their notes on the Cavill brothers and Alex Wickham of late nineteenth century fame, who have been credited by some with "inventing" the Australian Crawl stroke.
But back to the present and men's middle and distance freestyle, where it appears that, even though Glen Housman has retired, Kieren Perkins is yet to return to the competition pool, and Daniel Kowalski is recovering from a shoulder injury, Australia still has some exciting new prospects for the men's 400 and 1500. The Dennis Cotterell-trained, 16- year-old Grant Hackett has put his foot in the door left ajar by the champions and stamped his name on a place in the senior national team, taking out the 1500 in 15:03.67, which would have placed fourth in Atlanta, and ranks 12 th on the World ATB list.
His splits were:
100 200 300 56.22 1:56.11 2:56.26 400 500 600 3:56.99 4:57.40 5:57.76 700 800 900 6:58.28 7:59.29 9:00.26 1000 1100 1200 10:01.28 11:02.00 12:02.68 1300 1400 1500 13:03.61 14:04.44 15:03.67
Hackett's 400 winning time of 3:51.69 was not quite as impressive, but for a 6 ft 5 in (195.5 cm) young athlete, it's a good swim. Coach Cotterell says, "He lacks the strength to match his growth. He shot up 2 inches (5 cm) in the last twelve months."
Watch out when Cotterell's dry land program of core exercises with no weights takes effect in the next twelve months. At this stage this Olympic prospect can't handle his own body weight with anything to spare. The prediction from the Miami coach is for a sub 14:50.00 within 18 months. The following table shows Grant's progress in the 200, 400, 800 and 1500 in the last three years.Grant Hackett's Progression
Free 14 years 15 years 16 years 200 1:57.04 1:53.20 1:51.73 400 4:07.23 3:57.44 3:51.69 800 8:14.31 7:59.29 1500 16:07.58 15:48.40 15:03.67
Two other male age groupers impressed the selectors and were named to go to Japan. The most exciting no doubt was a 14 year old who has been rewriting the national age records in the pool, but also broke Jon Konrads record as the youngest male swimmer to be selected on a senior national team. Ian Thorpe is a freestyle and individual medley swimmer with strong backup times in backstroke and butterfly. His 400 freestyle time was probably the best all time for his age at 3:53.44.The splits for Thorpe's 400 freestyle in the Pan Pacific Trials were:
100 200 300 400 57.08 1:57.54 2:56.71 3:53.44
Thorpe, a Sydney high school student, is coached by Doug Frost at the Padstow Club. He comes from a sporting family; his father excelled in both rugby and cricket, and his sister competed on the national swim team. His achievements so far in 1997 are:Ian Thorpe
50 100 200 400 Free 24.68 53.32 1:52.83 3:53.44 Back 1:00.37 2:09.73 Fly 58.69 2:09.77 I.M. 2:08.22 4:30.93
Simon Cowley, a 16-year-old student at Endeavour Sports High School in Sydney, originally received his scholarship for his potential as a medium pace bowler in cricket. Now cricket is on hold while Simon pursues swimming as a sport, specializing in breaststroke. He now has to find a new coach due to the appointment of his Aquadot Coach, Greg Hodge, to the position of Coaching Director in the recently established New South Wales Institute of Sport.
Cowley caused an upset by winning the 200 breaststroke ahead of Olympian Phil Rogers. Another Atlanta Olympian, Ryan Mitchell, obviously not giving the Pan Pacs priority ahead of his preparation for the World SC and World LC Championships, finished a distant 6th. Simon placed second to Rogers in the 100 with a personal best of 1:03.52 to catch the eye of the selectors and he will be on the plane to Fukuoka.
The men's backstroke events did not uncover any rising stars to bolster the national team strength in the individual dorsal and medley relay contests. Adrian Radley took out the 100 in the pedestrian time of 56.62 and after qualifying fastest for the 200 with a 2:02.69 scratched from the final, leaving the former South African, Ray Hass, to win selection for Pan Pacs.
Backstroke and medley relay mainstay at the 1994 Commonwealth Games and 1996 Olympic Games, Steven Dewick, has returned to the AIS and Coach Gennadi Touretski in a bid to regain his speed and form.
It was the lady with the enchanting smile who won my award for female swimmer of the meet; not because of her smile, but for her return to the winning circle and her world class times in both the 100 and 200 breaststroke. Samantha Riley showed renewed confidence to take the 100 in 1:10.01 and the 200 with a 2:27.43 (976 points on the FINA chart), splitting 1:10.74 at the 100. To use the former world record holder's own words after her first win in the 100, "I feel like I've left a lot of baggage behind after that swim. I struggled to find my stroke this morning but tonight it felt really good. Sam is back!" Riley said. She then went on to win the 200 in her best time since the Pan Pacs at Atlanta in 1995. On that occasion she recorded 2:24.81.
Riley's 15-year-old training partner at the Commercial Club in Brisbane, Kristy Ellem, has come through as the new challenger for a place in the national team breaststroke squad and got the nod from the selectors for her 2:29.32 second to Samantha. Olympian Helen Denman retained her place on the team with a 1:10.21 second placing in the 100.
Susan O'Neill was a close runner-up in my female swimmer of the meet award with 2:09.26, (974 FINA points), and a 1:00.45 in the 200 and 100 fly events on limited preparation and very short taper. Susan is one of a number who elected not to contest the World SC in Gothenburg, but to concentrate on long course training and competition at Pan Pacs in her build up to the 1998 World Championships in Perth. Her PB of 2:07.29 at the Atlanta Olympics has her third in the World ATB list and still with an ambition to replace Mary T. Meagher as the World Record holder for this event.
Julia Greville, coached by Bernie Mulroy in Perth, 18 years of age and already an Olympian, was my third choice as female swimmer of the meet with sound performances in middle distance freestyle. The Western Australian won both the 200 and 400 freestyle and was a second in the 100 and 800, results that reflect a move from sprint to middle distance focus in Julia's swimming ambitions. She swam her first competitive 800 in Adelaide and said, "I want to swim the 200 and 400 double on the national team. Competing over the 800 distance not only gives me more endurance but also makes the 400 feel a lot shorter."Julia Greville's Three-Year Progression
Free 16 years 17 years 18 years 50 26.80 27.08 27.39 100 57.15 56.48 57.35 200 2:01.53 2:00.44 2:00.26 400 4:20.27 4:22.68 4:11.47 800 8:42.50
Natasha Bowron showed promise as a middle distance swimmer, taking first place in the 800 and finishing second to Greville in a much-improved 400 with a good time for someone just 15 years old. Her 4:12.11 places her 8 th on the Australian ATB. Natasha, like Julia, is now focusing on the longer distances. Head Coach Talbot has been behind this move and club coach Brian Wilkinson supports the strategy. The Sydney schoolgirl performed well in the 1997 World Cup series, finishing second to Claudia Poll (CRC) and having seven wins in 400 and 800 events on the tour. To date her 400 looks like the better distance for her but she may prove to be better over the longer distance after another season on the distance program designed by Coach Wilkinson. World SC, Pan Pacs, and World LC Championships are all on the program of this ebullient young swimmer's calendar for 1997-98.
Australia is now looking to 19 year old Australian Institute of Sport swimmer Meredith Smith to fill the void left by the retirement of triple Olympian Nicole Stevenson in backstroke and the medley relay. Meredith narrowly missed Atlanta selection and has since had an operation on her quadriceps muscles for compartment syndrome.
Her 100 in 1:02.61 was a personal best and shows Meredith is capable of reaching the potential she displayed as a member of the 1994 Australian Commonwealth Games team in Victoria, BC. Teenager Richelle Jose, another Bernie Mulroy swimmer from City of Perth Club, was selected as the additional backstroker for her second in the 200, which was also won by Meredith Smith.
Both men's and women's events were short of the high standard usually set by Matthew Dunn, Trent Steed, and Emma Johnson. Dunn was untroubled to take out the 200, 400 I.M. double. Both men have elected to compete in all internationals this year in preparation for the big meet in Perth in January 1998.
In the absence of Johnson, concentrating on final year high school studies, a newcomer to the national open team emerged in Rachel Harris, also from Bernie Mulroy's training squad at the Beatty Park Aquatic Centre in Perth. Jacinta van Lint, a 1997 recruit to the AIS program, training with Coach Barry Prime, will also compete in her first senior international competition at Fukuoka.
The 1997 World Short Course and Pan Pacific Championships will not see full representation from "Down Under." However, a strong entry is expected for the Australian Long Course Championships and World Championship Trials Meet in October. Selection of our best ever senior team is assured, with the return of past champions and the new breed of young challengers who by then will have had further valuable international experience, vying for places on the team.
Kieren Perkins knows that the task ahead of him will not only be great in Perth, but there are other challengers out there who will make the first hurdle of selection in the national team a tough one indeed. Kieren and his fiance were married on Saturday 5 April on Bedarra, an exclusive North Queensland tropical island, with a small party of approximately forty family friends, including Coach John Carew and his wife Barbara. Television coverage of the event from a distance revealed that a mighty fireworks display wound up the unique celebration. There could be a big bang again in Perth in January if all goes according to plan. The world's greatest ever distance freestyler is reportedly having only a short honeymoon of several days before returning to his commitment to train with Carew in Brisbane for the 1998 World Championships.