Dubai, world s/c championships, day 5 finals:
Felicitations will be due to Felicity Galvez tonight at the Aussie team meeting: in 55.43, she claimed the first gold medal of the championships for Australia, pumping her nation up from the doldrums on the medals table. The silver wen to Therese Alshammar (SWE) in 55.73, that effort helping her to match the record of 17 career world s/c medals set by Jenny Thompson (USA). Alshammar has the edge with one more gold than the American. The bronze tonight went to another American, Dana Vollmer, on 56.25.
tension at the start of the race was heightened by a tech failure in the starting system, with swimmers almost false-starting before they were called to step down from their blocks for a moment. The Australian admitted later to having to "regain my composure" before getting back on her blocks. The title was in Galvez's grasp when she turned on 25.82sec, 0.25sec ahead of Alshammar, given that the Australian usually comes back faster than the Swedish world record holder and champion over 50m. Galvez had a textiule suit best of 56.34. Now she is the fastest ever in textile, 0.1sec ahead of Alshammar.
Galvez said: "I had some down time today to think and I thought we haven't got a gold for Australia all through this meet and I just thought I had to go out there and get it. It's a big deal. I came here to win gold. It's been tough against Therese the whole way through. She won the 50 and I guess I felt I deserved this one. The times are unbelievable."
Acknowledging that her tactics took into account Alshammar's well-known strength for up-front speed, Galvez said: "I knew I had to push the first 50 because I knew she'd go for it; she's that kind of athlete."
The champion said she would now take a break: "When I swim, I swim to win medals but right now I want to take some time out and see life without swimming."
History in the making:
World s/c Podiums
Most world titles in this event: 3
Records (TB = best ever in a textile suit)
Most world records in this event (since specific 25m records began in 1991): 4
All-time textile rankings top 5:
From the archive:
The last world mark held in what became known as a short-course pool was held at 1:10.5 by Aty Voorbij (NED) on November 12, 1956 at home in Hilversum. She was a member of the team coached by Jan Stender, a man who boasted a unique achievement: he had eight world record holders living on one street in Hilversum. His charges held 41 world records and 10 relay world records. They included Nelly Van Vliet, 1948 Olympic breaststroke champion, Mary Kok, Lenie deNijs, Geertje Wielema, Voorbij, Rita Kroon, Greetje Kraan, Rita Tigelaer and Hanny Termeulen. A fitness fanatic himself, who at 67 celebrated his induction to the International Swimming Hall of Fame by running round the Florida complex 20 times, was the first swimming coach to rely heavily on a land-based programme. His regime at De Robben Swim Club, from 1940 onwards was so tough that rivals dubbed him "The Hangman of Hilversum".