BERLIN - The German Nationals got off to a great start on Thursday at Berlin's new Europacentre facility....four national records were bettered and even national coaches Achim Jedamsky and Manfred Thiesmann were pleasantly surprised.
Already in the heats butterflyer Thomas Rupprath broke Michael "the Albatross" Gross' 16 year-old 100m fly record in 52.86, before taking it down another notch in the final to 52.58. He noted that his full body swimsuit had made a difference. (He is referring to the new ARENA full Bodysuit)
Things also looked good in the morning in the women's 100 freestyle with four women under the 56 second mark: Franziska van Almsick was faster than she'd been in five years (55.39), and backstroker Antje Buschschulte hit the wall in 55.03, a personal best time. Sprint queen Sandra Voelker of Hamburg was fourth in the morning and had her work cut out for her in the final. She turned it on and was able to outtouch van Almsick (55.18) and veteran Kathrin Meissner (55.12) with her 55.03, but had to take second dibs to Buschschulte. Wearing the new issue Speedo Fast.Skin full bodysuit, the towering (1,85m!) Magdeburg swimmer took even herself by surprise to win the title in 54.39, a new German record. Voelker's coach Dirk Lange was serene with the result, saying that her time would have won last summer in Istanbul, "that's how good it is." Buschschulte now has to get her head around the fact that she's the frontliner in this event for Sydney. Head women's coach Jedamsky remained realistic however, saying, "It all relativises in the end when the Americans and everyone else comes along. Now that performance has to be repeated."
Berlin veteran Sylvia Gerasch also bettered her own record in the 50 breaststroke (31.39), and backstroker Stev Theloke calmed fears that illness had perhaps done him in for the season by bettering his own European mark in the 50 back to 25.63.
If the fastsuit got rave reviews from most of the winners, one who didn't benefit was distance veteran Joerg Hoffmann. Already put out that the 1500 metres was scheduled for the first day of the championships, the 30 year-old Potsdam native not only lost his national title to 20 year-old Heiko Hell (15:11.84), but also missed the Olympic qualification with a laboured 15:26.14. to top it off, his bodysuit was to tight around the knees.
In two weeks he'll have another chance at the European Championships in Helsinki, hopefully time enough to see what suit he wants to wear, and if he's still got it in him for his fourth Olympics in Sydney.
We have the day 1 final results from the German Championships posted online.