BEIJING - The third leg of the 1998 FINA World Cup was held in Beijing, Febriary 25-26. in the magnificent Yingdong Swimming Pool, built for the Asian Games held here in 1990. Just over 200 participants from 19 countries and 18 regions from China are taking part.
Finals were scheduled at 2pm on the first afternoon and at 8pm on the second evening due to live television and a vast potential audience in the many millions.
On the first day one of the greatest stars of swimming, Alexander Popov (RUS) started off the finals with a winning effort in his favourite event-100 freestyle with a time of 48.99 (24.01). Marginally behind at the 50, as Richard Upton (AUS) touched ahead at the 50 m with 23.77. Popov picked up the pace to put him almost a body length ahead of Upton, whose times of 49.73 gave him second. Lorenzo Vismara (ITA) touched in third with 49.85.
The women's freestyle had Julia Greville (AUS) take the lead from the gun as she held off a spirited challenge from Juno Nakatani (JPN). Greville's winning time was 1:59.70, with Nakatani second with 2:00.56. Shen Dan (CHN) was third in 2:01.66.
Later in the session in the 800 freestyle, Chen Hua (CHN) was first with 8:32.18 having withstood an early challenge from Sarah Collings (GBR) who was second in 8:36.34 and Luo Ping, CHN third with 8:37.16. Greville (AUS) faded to sixth.
In the men's breaststroke Zeng Qilaiang (CHN) lead a sweep of the top three places for his country in the 50 m. His time was 27.86 with Zhu Yi in a very close second in 27.87 and Ji Chengzhi in third with 29.67. In the 200 m Andrei Korneev (RUS) lead from the start to post the fastest time of the short course season with 2:08.70, bettering his own 2:09.41 winning time from the Sydney World Cup in January. Zhu Yi, again second with 2:09.09 and Alexander Goukov (BLR) third with 2:11.08.
Svetlana Bondarenko (UKR) won the women's 100 breaststroke in a come-from-behind finish in 1:07.90. Only sixth at the 50 (33.40) she picked up the pace on the second half to move into the lead with a length to go. Han Xue (CHN) the early leader (32.29) at the half was couldn't hold on and finished second with 1:08.62. Sylvia Gerasch (GER) was third with 1:08.68.
Xia Xufeng (CHN) was an easy winner in the 400 IM with 4:14.12. He held the lead throughout the four strokes. Christian Keller (GER) was over three body lengths behind at the finish with 4:19.32 for second and Darren Wigg (GBR) third with 4:20.15 and his first world cup placing.
Later in the session Xia finished third in the 100 IM as Keller wins with 55.49 and Geoff Huegill (AUS) finished second with 56.73. Xia 's time was 56.77.
In the women's 100 butterfly Katrin Jake (GER) took the lead with 28.81 but was overtaken by Hu Ning (CHN) and Chen Yan (CHN) at the finish. Hu touched first with 1:00.54, Chen second with 1:00.71 and Jake third with 1:00.72.
Tomislav Karlo (CRO) won the 100 backstroke with 54.26, leading throughout the four lengths. His winning time was a new Croatian record. Geoff Huegil (AUS) was second in 54.63 and Rogerio Romero (BRA) third with 54.97.
In the women's 50 backstroke Sandra Volker (GER) was and easy winner with 28.54 over Lu Donghua (CHN) in 28.63 and Chen Yan (CHN) third 29.38. There are two swimmers names Chen Yan - the world record holder in the 400 IM who was born in 1981 and an older one who swims backstroke and was born in 1978. Its not uncommon to have the same name in China - on the results they refer to them as Chen Yan A and B respectively.
In the women's 200 backstroke Chen Yan won with 2:10.86 as Reiko Nakamura (JPN) gave a spirited challenge for top spot, her time was 2:10.91. Laura Porchianello (ITA) gave her country the second spot on the podium with 2:13.54 for third.
Denis Silantiev (UKR) the current long course world champion had an easy win in the 200 butterfly with 1:56.69, he held the lead at all stages of the race. Han Kyu-Chul (KOR) was second with 1:58.79 as he overtook William Kirby (AUS on the last 50. Kirby in third had a time of 1:58.85.
In the men's 50 butterlfy Geoff Huegill (AUS) was an easy winner with 23.77 with Zhang Qiang (CHN) second in 24.22 and Silantiev third with 24.44.
Hu Xiaowen (CHN) posted the world's fastest time of this 1998 season in the 200 IM with her winning effort of 2:11.81. Tomoko Hagiwara (JPN) held the lead at mid point but gave way and finished second wityh 2:13.93. Wang Danna (CHN) was third with 2:14.06.
In the men's 400 freestyle Jorg Hoffmann (GER) was an easy winner with 3:44.99. His winning margin was almost half the 25 m pool length. He now moves into the lead with 27 points, with tomorrow's 800 still to come. Deng Qingsong (CHN) and Wang Wei (CHN) took the lesser spots with 3:50.24 and 3:54.88 respectively.
With her sixth consecutive win in the last two world cups Sandra Volger (GER) is one of star performers of the 1998 world cup. She won the 50 free with 25.19 and her second event of the evening. She earlier won the 50 backstroke. Chan Na (CHN) and Nian Yun (CHN) took second and third with 25.35 and 26.03.