As is the custom in a number of swimming nations, all top Olympic athletes did not support the meet, allowing some promising newcomers the experience of winning at the national level. Scott Logan (50 freestyle), Grant Hackett (1500 freestyle), Adrian Radley (50, 100 and 200 backstroke), and Hayden Flouch jumped into the vacancies in the men's events, although Flouch got there due a disqualification of Ryan Mitchell in the prelims. Mitchell went on to record 2:07.66 in the 200 breaststroke and awaits ratification by FINA for a new world record after Australian Swimming ruled in favour of a special time trial at the end of the day's events. Grant Hackett at 15 years of age adds to Australia's embarrassment of riches in the men's distance events with Kieren Perkins, Daniel Kowalski and Glen Housman still vowing to continue on to Sydney 2000. In the women's events Susan O'Neill, Petria Thomas, and Samantha Riley were notable absentees.
In the 50 sprint, the young Olympian Scott Logan, 22.53, relished the absence of Chris Fydler and touched out the upcoming age grouper Nathan Rickard, 17, 22.56. Michael Klim, with a new straight arm recovery and "kayaking" arm pull took out the 100 and 200 double in 48.68 and 1:45.53 respectively, the latter a new Australian record. The 19-year-old Institute of Sport swimmer showed the benefits of having Alex Popov as a training partner, and Gennadi Touretski as a coach, to top up the potential he has shown as an age champion in the past five years. He proves that age groupers can stay in there if handled properly. Congratulations are also in order for Michael's early coach, Gene Jackson.
Daniel Kowalski was not in great form at the meet and Malcolm Allen made him pay in the 400, just holding off Daniel to win by 1/100 s in the ordinary time of 3:46.37. The top guns did not contest the 800. Kowalski had to be satisfied with two individual silver medals in the Championships, finishing second this time to Grant Hackett in the 1500.
Institute of Sport university student, Adrian Radley, showed that Australia has at last a potential backstroker to fill the void on the national team left by the retirement of Mark Kerry in the late 1980s. Adrian who is brilliant underwater at the start and in the turns, has always done well at short course competitions. He finished the meet with a world record for his part in the 400 medley relay and Commonwealth records in the 100 and 200. It will be interesting to see if he can translate this form into success at the international level in long course meets.
The best male breaststroker of the meet was disqualified for an incorrect turn in the 200 event following his win in the breaststroke sprint. Ryan Mitchell is a training partner of Phil Rogers, the Barcelona bronze medallist in the 100 breaststroke. Their mentor at the South Australian Sports Institute is Coach Glenn Beringen, also an Olympic breaststroke medallist who won silver in the 200 at Los Angeles in 1984.
It was Michael Klim again, this time winning the 50 and 100 butterfly sprints in 24.13 and 52.95. He was pressed closely by the promising Queenslander Geoff Huegill, who came to prominence at last year's Mare Nostrum tour. Scott Goodman, the Olympic bronze medallist, got back into winning form coming home in 1:56.05 in the 200.
Matthew Dunn maintained his dominance of the individual medley winning the 200 and 400 double. Young team members from the AIS, Zane King and Trent Steed, are two to watch in this event. King appears well suited to the 200 event with his six-foot-plus height and still growing at 19 years of age. Steed, on the other hand, is short and better suited to the longer event, having a background of good performances in events up to 1500 freestyle and 200 breaststroke.
The women's sprint events 50 and 100m failed show any new talent. Neither the 50 nor 100 winner is ranked in the current World SC Rankings in the Top 8. Julia Greville, winner of the 200 freestyle, is a young talented Western Australian. She can and must go faster to succeed in this event as a long course swimmer. Coach Bernie Mulroy is equal to the challenge. The youngest swimmer in the freestyle events, 14-year-old Natasha Bowron, placed fifth in the 200 and second in the 400. Head Coach Don Talbot has advised Natasha's coach Brian Wilkinson to target the 400 and 800 distances for his charge leading up to the 1998 World Championships and Commonwealth Games.
Meredith Smith, the unluckiest Aussie to miss Atlanta selection, took revenge on the selectors, eliminating retiree Nicole Stevenson's Australian record in winning the 100 backstroke. Her time of 1:00.81 places her on the national team for the 1997 World Short Course Championship in Sweden. She also won the 200 event in 2:09.00.
Samantha Riley took leave from the Championships after her turbulent Olympic year, and the aftermath of the on-again off-again suspension for the "headache" tablet (subsequently removed from the list of banned substances by the IOC) given to her by Coach Volkers at the 1995 World Short Course Championships in Rio. Fifteen-year-old Kirsty Ellem stepped into the breech to win the double in the 100 and 200. Her 200 time of 2:24.56 was the more credible swim backed up by a solid 1:08.73 in the 100. World 200 record holder, Rebecca Brown, is on the comeback trail taking silver in the longer event. She was likely a little disappointed with her 2:27.36.
With Susan O'Neill, the Olympic gold medallist, declining to swim, her fellow Olympian Angela Kennedy had a field day, winning the three fly events. Olympic silver medallist in the 200, Petria Thomas, was recovering from a shoulder reconstruction and resumes training at the Australian Institute of Sport in the new year with coach Mark Regan. Julia Ham, 16, impressed with 1:01.70 and 2:13.98 in the 100 and 200. She is even better long course.
Angela Kennedy brought her total of gold medals to six with wins in the 100 and 200 I.Ms. Emma Johnson, 16, another Olympian, swam a creditable 4:37.65 in winning the 400 I.M.