COLLEGE STATION, Dec 1-2 - The first ever FINA World Cup in the United States took place in the state-of-the-art Swimming Natatorium, part of a $36.4 million Student Recreation Centre on the campus of Texas A & M University. With 251 participants, the meet saw some sensational swimming, setting up many competitors for a fantastic U.S. Open, which followed.
A new world record in the women's 100 butterfly for American wonder Jenny Thompson was the highlight of the first day. With a time of 56.90 she bettered her own world record of 57.79 from 1997. The split was 26.51 and was well up on her previous record split of 27.01. In second was Ashley Tappin (USA) with 59.11 and in third was Junko Onishi (JPN) with 1:01.03.
Thompson was at a loss as to how she had done it, saying she had powerlifted the day before and had not anticipated such a fast swim. Later in the evening she won the 50 freestyle with 24.56 and a new American record second fastest on the all-time list. For the first time she wore a mid-thigh Speedo body suit, which apparently made a big difference.
The next day Thompson set another world record in the preliminaries of the 50 butterfly (26.05), bettering her own time of 26.48 from one year ago. Unfortunately she then had to return to Mills College (in the San Francisco Bay area), where she is a pre-medical student, to attend important classes the next day, forcing her to scratch from the finals in the 100 freestyle (53.03) and the 50 butterfly.
The men's 100 freestyle produced an American sweep of the top two spots as Sabir Muhammad (23.48) touched first in 48.55 with Josh Davis (23.55) close behind with 48.95. In third was Fernando Scherer (BRA) with 49.02. The early leader, Gustavo Borges (BRA) led to the 75 but missed the wall and lost his lead as he had to back up to touch. He finished fourth with 49.24.
In the 400 freestyle, Josh Davis took the early lead (53.56, 1:51.01, 2:48.08) but Ian Thorpe (AUS) made his move (54.41, 1:51.79, 2:47.49) on the second half to win with 3:42.28, with Davis second in 3:44.36. Rick Say (CAN) was third in 3:48.28. Ironman Davis had a packed meet, with another second in the 200 freestyle, and wins in the 200 backstroke (1:54.83) and 100 IM (55.41)-both American records.
Another perfectly paced 200 freestyle saw Thorpe finish the meet leading both the sprint and distance freestyle categories with 42 and 30 points respectively. His 200 splits were 24.85, 51.46, 1:18.21, for a final time of 1:44.65.
Jeremy Linn (USA) touched in 27.11 in the 50 breaststroke for a new American record over Fred deBurghgareve (BEL) in 27.37. Yu Daqing (CHN) was third in 27.68. Linn proceeded to upset deBurghgraeve in the 100 breaststroke on the second day. His winning time of 59.45 was an American record and deBurghgraeve battled all the way to the wall to touch second in 59.49. The Belgian nevertheless finished the category leader with 34 points.
Philip Weiss (CAN) won the 400 I.M., leading throughout the race (58.58, 2:03.87, 3:16.13) for a final time of 4:14.63. The 17-year-old American hope in the endurance events, Erik Vendt, came second with 4:15.79, moving into contention after trailing the leaders at the 200. Alejandro Bermudez (COL) finished third in 4:16.74 as Tom Dolan (USA) faded to fourth.
The men's 1500 freestyle was a two-man race. Thomas Lohfink (GER), who took and held the lead throughout (7:54.48 at the 800), finished with 14:54.28. Emiliano Brembilla (ITA) chased and closed the gap length by length, but fell short by an arm length at the finish for a close second with 14:54.97 (7:58.89 at the 800). Erik Vendt was third with 15:13.18.
Veteran Geoff Huegill (AUS) dominated the sprint fly, winning the 100 in 52.18 over Denis Silantiev (UKR) with 52.35. Sabir Muhammad was third with 52.81. Huegill finished with 57 points for the category lead, with Silantiev well back with 34.
Canadian rookie Brian Johns continued his streak, upsetting the more experienced swimmers in the 200 IM with a 1:59.90 (26.92, 57.28, 1:32.54) win. It was on the freestyle leg that he overtook Philip Weiss (CAN) 2:01.23, who had moved into the lead after the breaststroke leg (26.69, 57.55, 1:32.35). Robert Van Der Zant (AUS) was third with 2:01.41, but that was sufficient to give him the points lead in the category with 49.
The women's 100 freestyle resulted in an all-American sweep of the medals, with all three swimmers from the same club in Tucson, AZ. Ashley Tappin was first with 54.55, Shannon Hosack second with 55.06, and Liesl Kolbisen third with 55.73.
In the women's 200 freestyle, Franziska van Almsick (GER) set a blazing pace leading from the gun to finish well ahead of the field with 1:58.07 (splitting 27.69, 57.68, 1:28.07). Jessica Deglau (CAN) was second with 2:00.30 and Marianne Limpert (CAN) third with 2:00.39.
Limpert led another Canadian sweep of the medals in the 200 IM with a 2:12.42 win; Kristy Cameron was second with 2:13.95, and Carrie Burgoyne third with 2:14.51. Limpert had an easy win in the 100 IM with 1:01.95. Allison Wagner (USA) was well back in second with 1:03.39. Ning Bo (CHN) was third in 1:03.83. After two competitions Limpert had scored 40 points to lead the IM category.
The women's 400 freestyle was a battle between winner Claudia Poll (CRC) with 4:07.92 (splitting 1:00.07, 2:02.59, 3:05.21) and Lindsay Benko (USA) in second with 4:08.73 (1:00.08, 2:02.76, 3:06.00). Rachel Harris (AUS) placed third with 4:11.69, but it gave her the category points lead with 50 after three competitions.
In the women's 100 backstroke, Antje Buschschulte (GER) with 1:00.42 held off the challenge from Beth Botsford (USA) with 1:00.61. Kelly Stefanyshyn (CAN) was third with 1:01.36. Buschschulte led the category race with 40 points.
Hu Ning (CHN) won the 200 butterfly, setting a fast pace (29.12, 1:01.62, 1:35.89) with 2:09.90. Katrin Jake (GER) was second with 2:10.77 and Lauren Stinnett (USA) was third with 2:12.03. In the 50 fly, Ashley Tappin (USA) won with 26.48, which would have tied the former world record but for Jenny Thompson's 26.05 in the prelims. After three FINA World Cup competitions, Hu Ning led in the category points race with 43.
Needless to say, the Americans topped the medal standings with 15 golds, followed by Canada (6) and Australia (5).