Ian Thorpe yesterday took a trip back through memory lane when he won the 400 metres freestyle at the NSW Short Course Championships at Warringah Aquatic Centre - the pool where he won his early State Age and NSW Schoolboy titles.
Thorpe, 17, joined several members of the Australian Olympic swimming team for one of their final hit-outs before they head to Melbourne on August 25 for the third Telstra Grand Prix Meet and their two week pre-Olympic camp.
NSW Swimming were forced to go back to the future and stage their meet at Warringah - with their normal venue, the Sydney International Aquatic Centre - undergoing the final dress-up for next month's Olympic Games.
The current world record holder for 200 and 400m freestyle long course was under instructions from Sutherland Leisure Centre head coach Doug Frost to "negative split" his 400 metres and the "Thorpedo" followed his coaches pre-race plan to a tee - going through the 200 metres in shade over 1:54, coming home in a sub 1:54 for his second 200 metres and a combined official time of 3:48.00, ahead of Olympic team mates William Kirby (3:49.85) and Chris Fydler (3:51.29).
"He actually turned at the 200 metres and stuick his head up had a look up at his time on the scoreboard and put his head back down for the final 200 metres, looking very smooth, very controlled," said Australian Olympic team manager and Campbelltown head coach Alan Thompson.
Thorpe (50.04) later finished third in the 100m freestyle behind Olympic team mates Todd Pearson (48.97) and Brett Hawke (49.85) and in front of two other Olympians, Adam Pine (50.08) and Fydler (50.29).
Manly's rising star, Elka Graham, continued her rise up the ranks, winning the 200 metres in a PB of 1:58.23, from fellow Olympian Kirsten Thomson (1:59.33) and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Lori Munz (2:01.88).
Munz, who only just missed the Olympic team after an horrific car accident, is having her final swim for Shoalhaven Academy at these Championships before joining coach Rohan Taylor and team mate Jordana Webb in Melbourne.
Graham made it a 1-2 finish for the local clubs, when she finished second to fellow Olympian, Warringah Aquatic's Anna Windsor in the 50 metres freestyle. Windsor, who will contest the 200 IM in Sydney, won in 26.33 from Graham (26.42).
The lanky 18-year-old, who is coached at the Andrew "Boy" Charlton pool (named after the 1924 Paris Olympic gold medallist) by Narelle Simpson, also finished second to Toongabbie Olympian, Kasey Giteau in the 400 metres, with Giteau clocking 4:07.07 and Graham 4:07.46.
In other events, Phil Rogers (Clovercrest SA/AIS) won the 100 metres breaststroke in 1:02.12 from Jim Piper (Campbelltown) 1:02.90 and Simon Cowley (Sutherland LC) 1:03.87; Ray Hass (Firbank Aquastars, VIc/AIS) clocked a brilliant 1:56.12 to beat Galstson's Olympian Cameron Delaney (2:00.72) in the 200m backstroke; City of Perth's AIS based William Kirby won the 200m butterfly (1:58.29) from Campbelltown's Mathew Hall (1:59.70).
The womens 100-200m backstroke double went to Kincumber's National Age and Oceania champion, Kelly Tucker, who clocked 2:12.29 to win the 200m and 1:02.86 in the 100m - two outstanding times.