RIO - The first leg of the 1999 FINA World Cup got underway on Saturday morning with Brazilian stars Gustavo Borges and Fernando Scherer providing excitement in the fery first event-the 100 freestyle.
With 192 competitors taking part in this first of 12 stages of the World Cup this competition has grown over the past decade to four continents-South and North America, Asia, Australia and Europe.
Gustavo Borges like so often in their decade old rivalry beat Scherer with a time of 48.33. Argentina's rising new sprint star Jose Martin Meolans touched second with 48.94 after taking the early lead, turning first at the 50. Scherer was third in 49.21.
In the men's 400 freestyle world record holder Ian Thorpe (AUS) back in heavy training did not expect a fast time. However it was an obvious case of the mouse playing with the cats as he let other swimmers take the early lead coasting up to the first 200 with a 1:55.18 in third place, than he turned it on and moved into the lead to easily touch first with 3:46.28 (1:51.10 for the second 200). Luiz Lima (BRA) was second with 3:47.18 and Yann de Fabrique (FRA) third with 3:47.69.
Johanna Sjoberg (SWE) was the top women's performer, winning the 100 fly in 59.65.
Although the host country Brazil had the most swimmers at the competition with 108, the Australian team of 5 men and 3 women had the most golds with 5, tied by the Germans with 5 and Brazil with 3.