SWIMNEWS ONLINE: September 1998 Magazine Articles

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Day Three - September 14

Versfeld Stops Australian Sweep


Craig Lord

"You must be getting pretty sick of Susie," said the gloating Australian scribe after a night of near misses in the pool for English women and a session that saw Canada's Mark Versfeld break an Australian medal-fest and Michael Klim finally break a cycle of bad fortune.

In the first race, O'Neill held off a tremendous late challenge from England's Vicki Horner to win her first major 400 freestyle title-4:12.39 to 4:12.56-with Canadian Joanne Malar third in 4:13.91. Then, in the last race of the night, O'Neill brought the Australian freestyle quartet home in a Commonwealth record of 3:42.61 after a 55.06 split. That represented the Olympic butterfly champion's third gold medal. England's 3:43.20 sliced 2.1 seconds off the British record for silver, with Canada third in 3:45.48.

Perhaps it was the medal fatigue from the world championships that weighted down Michael Klim. But until day three, Touretski's torment had yet to win an individual thing. He changed all that in the 100 freestyle, his narrow 49.43 victory over teammate Chris Fydler (49.51) a Games record.

Two teenagers dominated the 100 metres backstroke: Australian Giaan Rooney, 15, winning in 1:02.43, a Games record, with Canada's Kelly Stefanyshyn, 16, runner-up in 1:02.81.

100 bacstroke medallists Smith (AUS), Rooney (AUS), Stefanyshyn (CAN)
Click image for larger photo. Photo © Dan Galbraith

Kelly's teammate Mark Versfeld was the only swimmer who could stop another Australian clean sweep, his comfortable victory in the 200 backstroke made all the easier because Adam Ruckwood, England's defending champion, failed to make the final by just 0.01 seconds. Versfeld was never matched in what turned out to be a race against time. With no one to force a faster finish, Versfeld finished almost 2 seconds up on Australian Adrian Radley in 1:59.67.

Versfeld, coached by Tom Johnson at the Pacific Dolphins Swim Club, was praised by Canadian head coach Dave Johnson for being one of the swimmers who was helping cement the foundations of the Canadian recovery.

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