O'Neill Sets Record Of Most National Titles Won
May 16, 2000 - Paul Quinlan
The two backstrokers Giaan Rooney and Clementine Stoney who tied for second place in the 100m on Sunday night will swim off for the Olympic spot later in the week following a decision of the national selectors.
Susan O'Neill surpassed the Australian record held by the late Sir Frank Beaurepaire for the most Australian Championships won. Susan now has thirty four wins to Sir Frank's 33. The record has stood since 1924, seventy six years. It is fitting that Susan accomplished this in a freestyle event which was the great man's specialty.
The veteran swimmer showed a clean pair of heels for the four laps of the race. Fellow butterflyer Petria Thomas was second through the 50m in 28.01 to O'Neill's 27.90. Nineteen year old Elka Graham turned third in 28.10 with Giaan Rooney behind by just .01.
O'Neill split the halfway mark in 57.89, a half second ahead of Thomas, then came Rooney in 58.50 with Graham close and still in there with a chance of a medal.
O'Neill was still leading the way when she turned for home in 1:27.73. Rooney had now moved into second .10 in ahead of Thomas.
They went to the wall in that order with the individual Olympic spots going to O'Neill and Rooney 1:57.70 and 1:59.50.
The relay swims go to Thomas third 2:00.18, Elka Graham fourth 2:00.21, Jacinta van Lint fifth 2:00.65 and Kirsten Thomson sixth in 2:00.73 - the makings of a great Olympic relay team.
About beating Sir Frank Beaurepaire's record, O'Neill said: "Its good for it to finally be put to rest. It means longevity in the sport. There are many multi-medallists, but I'm happy with what I've done."
The tall redheaded Atlanta Olympian, Elli Overton showed the way in the fly leg hotly pursued by fellow '96 team mate Anna Windsor. Only .32 separated the two, Overton turning in 29.15. Megan McMahon was in fourth place followed by Rachel Harris.
The backstroke leg sorted out the main contenders with Overton reaching 100m in 1:03.74 to Windsor's 1:03.76. Young Western Australian swimmer Yvette Rodier was third and Jennifer Reilly fourth, both two seconds behind the leaders.
Overton's breaststroke was the stronger and she gained almost two seconds on her main rival to lead the way into the last turn and come home to win strongly and recorded her best time since '99 Pan Pacs in 2:14.66 to Windsor's 2:16.66.
Distance freestyler Rachel Harris came in ahead of 400 IM'er Jennifer Reilly to take the bronze medal.
Winner Elli Overton was thrilled: "I can't believe it, it still hasn't sunk in yet. I'm really excited about how it went."
Runner up and also second time Olympian, Anna Windsor said: "It's a big thrill. I'll tell my dad he can come to the Olympics now. In the last lap I was just praying no one would catch me."
The question in this race was will the young turks come thru or will the experienced Scotts, Miller and Goodman and the previous national champion Bill Kirby, be representing Australia.
As has already happened in this meet the fresh, young, aspiring Olympians came thru to swim over the older swimmers in the late stages of the race.
Olympic silver medallist in 100m 'fly at Atlanta Scott Miller was fastest through the first turn with Heath Ramsay second in 26.24, veteran Scott Goodman next in 26.47.
As they swam the second leg Miller was still the leader, making a bold attempt to steal the race, and go to his second Olympics with a fast 55.62. Goodman was second also under 56 and just .15 away from his old foe. The young Ramsay was now third in 56.35.
Miller faltered half way thru the third fifty, but Goodman was still there leading now and turning at 150m in 1:26.02, a half body length from Ramsay who was now looking like a winner.
The race was developing into a last fifty battle with Norris and Kirby both touching in 1:27.66.
Goodman was fighting for his Olympic place but was not able to hold off the fast finishing newcomers in Ramsay and particularly Norris , the 400m medley winner on Sunday night , who came home very fast and almost stole the race from the John Carew trained Heath Ramsay, who touched first in 1:57.49 just .01 sec ahead to win his first national championship, and a place on the 2000 Olympic team.
Titleholder William Kirby was the bronze medallist in 1:57.71 with Scott Goodman finishing fourth after a great effort in 1:58.00
Ramsay the newest Olympian: "Definitely it's a great feeling," but on winning " I always thought I had a chance of making the team."
And on his renowned opponents: "I treat them all the same."
Michael Klim and Ian Thorpe swam Semi 1. Klim winning in 49.31 to Thorpe 49.45. Chris Fydler and Ashley Callus came first and second in Semi 2. 49.09 to 49.47. Todd Pearson third in 49.58. Three swimmers went under 50.0 in the prelims, and 6 under that mark in the semis.
The old brigade were outdone in the semis with the Alan Thompson coached new chum Jim Piper recording fastest with a 2.16.13 to Grant McGregor's 2:16.24. The recognised breaststroke champions were further back and will have to improve in the final to gain their Olympic spots.
New Commonwealth record to O'Neill with 2:06.51. Thomas second fastest with 2:09.94
Grant Hackett in leading his Miami Club team to the gold medal swam a 1:47.98. Kowaslki swimming the anchor leg went 1:49.27. The club team time was a creditable 7:19.70