Double Dutch Downunder
Oct 14, 1998 - Paul Quinlan
The unique Australian meet format now a regular event on the national swimming calendar for the third year continued to bamboozle some swimming watchers.
The format of the Invitational Meet is in three parts for men's and women's events:
The format may have been double dutch to some but it was the pair from the Netherlands, Dutch team members, Peter van Hoogenband and Inge de Bruin who stood out among the international contingent of athletes flown in by the sponsor QANTAS for the publicity meet.
van Hoogenband took out the men's 50m freestyle event/s. Current men's world champion, Bill Pilczuk(USA) was eliminated in the first swim with a 24 secs high, citing a slow start on his part as the cause. Bill would have to have stood on his block waving the field "Goodbye!" to account for the two second deficit in his normal race pace.
World's top rated 50m butterflyer Inge de Bruin had to accept the freestyle invitation offered to her, but went on to win that series of 50's convincingly.
Penny Heynes(SA) was too good in the 50m breaststroke events outlasting national champion Helen Denman to take the 'skin' in this event.
Standouts for the Aussies were young backstroker Giaan Rooney, the Commonwealth 100m champion, winning the 50 backstrokes; Geoff Huegill who took out the men's 50m butterfly swims from improving comebacker Scott Miller; Matt Dunn who dominated the mystery IM; and finally Grant Hackett who showed everyone including the fastest ever 400m freestylers in world history, Kieren Perkins and Ian Thorpe, how to swim a broken 400. Daniel Kowalski as ever reliable took the second place money.
The concept continues to have public support in swimming conscious Sydney with good spectator turnouts. The program still televised nationwide in mid-prime time on Saturday night.
Swimmers also support the meet despite a very low prize money level, only $4,500 for the winner down to $500 for fifth place.
Compared to what happens on the tennis court or golf course our athletes are at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to prize money.
Multiple world champion and world record holder in men's 100m butterfly, Michael Klim, was however in the commentary box and not the pool, developing what hopefully will be a career for him in sports commentary with his Shannel 9 sponsor.
Michael did a fine job as support commentator to Nicole Stevenson. He will continue to perform at a high level in the pool when he resumes competition at what Gennadi Touretski predicts "a new high level" in 1999.