Susan O'Neill withdrew from the Women's 100m Freestyle Semi-final tonight to give herself a better chance of succeeding in her attempt for the 200m Butterfly world record of 2:05.96 held by Mary T Meagher.
NEW WORLD RECORD
The Olympic champion and eight times consecutive winner of this event, twenty six year old Susan O'Neill went out with a great start and her old rival and Atlanta silver medallist in this event Petria Thomas at her side in the first fifty, only .02 separating them. O'Neill in 28.51. BOTH AHEAD OF WR PACE.
The crowd got on their feet and roared encouragement for their favourite swimmer and long time challenger to the longest standing record in the FINA books. She was ahead of the Meagher splits again at the 100m in 1:00.24. Thomas was still pushing Susan with a strong 100 in 1:00.69 still ahead of WR time- a great asset for O'Neill.
The third fifty saw the Australian, O'Neill, maintain the pressure swimming with a long double breathing stroke and high body position. She was ahead of the WR split at 150m in 1:32.71 against Mary T's 1:33.69. Thomas was still there and ahead of WR pace by 0.07.
Conscious that she had previously led the American's splits to the 150m O'Neill had to pull out something special, if she was going to take the record. Buoyed by the most vocal swimming spectators, shouting and waving banners from the stands, the Olympic champion did just that.
As they raced the last fifty Thomas was not able to maintain the pace. Susan O'Neill went to the wall to take the most coveted and longest standing record in great style. She stopped the clock in 2:05.81 to be .15 ahead of Mary T Meagher's record.
The American has always supported the Australian in her four year campaign for the 2:05.96 recorded in Brown Deer on 13 August, 1981. Mary T's husband was at the pool to witness the new record and congratulate the Olympic and World Champion and now world record holder.
The crowd went wild and clapped with vigour to the Shania Twain's "Feel Like a Woman".
Petria Thomas took the silver in a world all time 4th best with 2:07.21, a jump of ten places on the world list and an improvement of almost two seconds on her previous best at the 1998 World Championships.
The very promising 15-year-old Tasmanian butterflyer, Nicole Hunter, took bronze in 2:13.78
|Mary T Meagher's Splits||29.53||1:01.41||1:33.69||2:05.96|
|Susan O'Neill's Splits||28.51||1:00.24||1:32.71||2:05.81|
|Petria Thomas's Splits||28.53||1:00.69||1:33.62||2:07.21|
The new record holder said: "I could hear the crowd the whole time; the whole race I felt really good. I felt strong in the water. I knew as I was going into touch and heard the crowd; I knew I had done it finally."
We had a few jokes in the locker room . They said at least you'll have the world record for the masters.
Now, I have two weeks in Sydney with Cliff (Dr. Cliff Fairlie, Susan's husband) then I start training for the big one in September. I'm looking forward to that.
I been trying for that record for a long time and now that I have it, it makes finishing my swimming career a lot easier."
There was intense rivalry and mind games were rampant in the twenty four hours leading up to the final. The titleholder for the event, Ryan Mitchell, coached by Glenn Beringen in Adelaide was still looking for a reservation in the Olympic Village following the 100m final on Sunday 14.
In this final the young challenger Jim Piper went out furthest in the underwater stroke to lead at 15m. He was hotly pursued by Mitchell who took the lead in 30.56 as they went through the turn. Nathan Hewitt was half a body length back with Regan Harrison challenging at his shoulder.
Mitchell was looking particularly strong with a classical, reaching, stable body position breaststroke style. His old training partner from his Adelaide days, Phil Rogers, had moved up thru the field to be second with Regan Harrison .30 behind. Mitchell split the 100 in 1:04.44.
The Atlanta Olympian, Mitchell, still maintained his stroke as they entered the second half of the race and turned ahead of Harrison, Piper and then Rogers who had fallen back to fourth. All of Mitchell's turns and underwater work were strong. He had half a body length lead turning in 1:39.36 ahead of Harrison and Piper at the 150m.
In the last lap Harrison and Piper tried to challenge but the South Australian was to strong as he hit the wall first in 2:14.42. Harrison was second in 2:14.80 and Piper third in 2:15.42. The first and second were inside the Olympic qualifying time and earned their places on the team.
The winner had this to say about his swim, "I've been swimming well right from the prelims and through the semis to this final. I just wanted to go out and swim fast. I'm a bit disappointed with the time but at least I've booked a place on the team. The 200 is what I was here for."
Harrison on the race: "Going into the meet I thought no way; I thought I was going to have to do a 2:12, but as it turned out my 2:14 got me on the team."
The build up to the men's 100 Free was huge with speculation about the fast-skin suits and whether Ian Thorpe would swim the 1500m Freestyle, against his coach's wishes, if he did not place first or second in the sprint.
Title holder Michael Klim was pumped up for the event and exploded from the blocks to go through the 50m turn in 23.23, 0.10 ahead of Alex Popov's WR split.
Twenty six year old national team captain Chris Fydler was within .30 of Klim's fast fifty with a 23.53. David Jenkins was next thru with 23.62, then Stephen Goudie with a 23.75. Thorpe's split was 24.24
So, at least the relay spots were still in contention; but it looked like Klim or Fydler - Fydler or Klim in either order for the individual representation in the event in Sydney.
Fydler came at Klim in the last fifteen metres but Klim seemed to muster new strength accelerating to the wall and winning the honours in a new Commonwealth record time of 48.56, an improvement of .22 on his previous record.
This moved Klim up a place in the all time list to fourth. Fydler's time of 48.85 was his first under 49 sec. His time is the 7th fastest all time - a jump of thirteen places. A great effort and good news for Australian swimming's Olympic prospects in the individual and team events.
Ashley Callus, coached by Dave Urquhart at the Redlands Club in Brisbane was the bronze medallist. Thorpe's withering finish was not noticeable in the flurry of the big men's dash to the wall and uncharacteristically he had to finish without a medal for the first time in years.
The silver medallist commented after the race: "I've got to tell you I never thought I'd travel under 49.00. For so many years I was struggling to break 50.00; and if you'd told me I would travel 48.8 and come second, I would never have believed you."
Klim the winner: "I am really happy with the race. I did exactly what I planned with my time and made the team as well (individual 100 spot). I was sluggish in the semi.
"To be honest I talked myself into swimming faster. There was no other way."
Ian Thorpe announced after the race that: "I'm a sprinter and will not be competing the 1500m on the lastday of the Trials."
With O'Neill scratched the fastest time went to Atlanta Olympian Sarah Ryan in 55.46, followed by Giaan Rooney in 56.47.
Lori Munz who had both knees smashed in a car accident ten weeks ago has made the final by 0.01, the narrowest of margins.
Former WR holder Rebecca Brown with a 2:28.71 goes into the Final, a second ahead of Lethal Leisel Jones. Samantha Riley gets another chance. The former world champion has qualified fifth for the final.
100m champion Matt Welsh heads the list for the final with 1:59.54. Cameron Delaney and Ray Hass are second and third placed after the semis.
Veteran medley swimmer Matt Dunn goes into the final as favourite with fastest in the semis, 2:01.84. Grant McGregor 0.42 and Justin Norris 0.64 behind will provide the challenges in what will be a close fight for the team spots. Robt. van der Zant is 1.54 four off the pace at this time.