Beijing-The Americans had their Olympic Trials the latest of any other country, meaning that most of the team has been on the road for over 50 days. They went straight from Omaha to Palo Alto then Singapore before heading into the Olympic village. While it doesn't seem to have phased Michael Phelps, the time could be taking its toll on the powerhouse swimming nation. The women's side has won just 1 gold. The meet still has 3 finals sessions and the last country to count out would be the Americans, but perhaps 50 days is too long not to be sleeping in your own bed.
On the flip side, swimmers from 6 different countries broke Olympic Records in heats tonight: Brazil, France, Britain, Kenya, Serbia and Zimbabwe. A pretty impressive list that shows the depth of world swimming is growing. That 4 train in the US, is another article all together.
Men's 50 Free
Back to back Olympic Records erased the great Alexander Popov's name from the books tonight. His time of 21.91 from Barcelona in 1992 has stood the test of 3 Olympic Games, but was taken down tonight by Auburn swimmer Cesar Cielo Filho (BRA) in 21.47. Cielo tied for bronze this morning in the 100 free and showed great early speed. "It was great," said Cielo about breaking the record. "It was kind of sad it only lasted 10 seconds! It's always good to win and swim fast. Tomorrow I want to swim fast and get the record back." Auburn teammate George Bovell (TRI) was second in a 21.77, while Garrett Weber-Gale (USA) was the only other man under 22 with his 21.95.
In the second seeded heat, Amaury Leveaux (FRA) lowered it to 21.46. Leveaux had a great start and surfaced well ahead of the field with a great underwater kick and breakout. Second was defending World Champ, Ben Wildman-Tobriner (USA) in 21.75 in a tie with Stefan Nystrand (SWE) in 21.75.
The final heat was a repeat from this morning's 100, with Alain Bernard (FRA) and Eamon Sullivan (AUS) going head to head. While they were busy reliving finals, Roland Schoeman (RSA) who is the bronze medallist in this event from Athens, got a quick start and held on for the win in 21.76 to Bernard's 21.78 and Sullivan's 21.79.
"I feel good," said Bernard. "I still haven't completely realized what happened [this morning in the 100]. I feel relaxed. Everything went smoothly, and I'm through to the semis. Now I'm going to get a good rest and sleep well."
It took a 22.17 to make top 16.
Women's 800 Free
Of the top 10 performances ever done in this event, 5 are from at least 8 years ago with Janet Evans (USA) still leading the way. Her World Record of 8:16.22 was set in 1989 and is the oldest on the books. Also in the top 10 are 2 GDR swimmers from the late '80s, and Brooke Bennett's (USA) and Yana Klochkova's (UKR) swims from the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Bennett's time of 8:19.67 was the Olympic Record until tonight.
In the first seeded heat, Camelia Potec (ROM) took it out fast under World Record pace through the 500. Potec won gold in the 2004 Olympics in the 200 free and her time today was a best time by 4 seconds and near miss of the Olympic Record. She won in 8:19.70 and is now 6th on the all-time list. Federica Pellegrini (ITA) scratched from the event and triple 1500 world silver medallist, Flavia Rigamonti (SUI) was never in the race. Xuanxu Li (CHN) was second in 8:24.37, while Katie Hoff (USA) was third in 8:27.78, which was not good enough for the final. She finished 11th.
In the second seeded heat it was 400 champ Rebecca Addlington (GBR) in a new Olympic Record of 8:18.06. The big drop came from Lotte Friis (DEN) who took almost 7 seconds of her best to touch in 8:21.74. Kylie Palmer (AUS) who helped the Aussie women win gold in the 4x200 this morning and was 8th at the '07 Worlds was third in a PB of 8:22.81. "It's been a really great day," said Palmer. "And the start of it was just awesome! When I went to the training pool [after the relay] everyone was saying 'good job' but I knew I had also another job to do, so I had to calm down."
The final heat went to Alessia Filippi (ITA) who cruised to an 8:21.95. Reigning World Champ, Kate Ziegler (USA) went an 8:26.98 and failed to advance. She is 10th.
Ai Shibata (JPN), the defending Olympic Champion swam an 8:41.63 placing 27th.
Men's 100 Fly
Jason Dunford (KEN) swam a fantastic race to break the Olympic Record in the first seeded heat. A student at Stanford, Dunford swam a best time of 51.14 to lower the record set by Michael Phelps (USA) in Athens. The record was short-lived. In the final heat, Berkeley grad Milorad Cavic (SRB) beat Phelps with a 50.76. Phelps' best is only a 50.77. He finished fast with a 50.87, while Andrii Serdinov (UKR) went a 51.10. "I need to put myself out there more in the first 50," said Phelps. "It was a prelim swim and nothing really counts until the finals."
The second seeded heat went to Albert Subirats (VEN) in 51.71. Subirats is one of 10 foreign swimmers from the University of Arizona swimming here in Beijing. World Record holder Ian Crocker (USA) was third touching in 51.95 which places him 13th. It took a 52.05 to final, meaning Adam Pine (AUS), who is competing in his 3rd Games, is 17th with his 52.07.
"It was a swim to get me into the meet a little bit," said Crocker after his debut here in Beijing. "It has been a long week waiting and watching. At least I am in the meet and I can swim my race."
Women's 200 Back
With 3 silvers so far, Auburn graduate Kirsty Coventry (ZIM) has one last chance to claim gold here in Beijing. She is the defending Olympic Champion and former World Record holder in this event. After tonight she is also the Olympic Record holder with her 2:06.67 win in the 2nd seeded heat. She came back on early leader Hanae Ito (JPN) who was out well under World Record pace, but fell back to a 2:10.05 and 14th spot. Second in the heat went to Meagen Nay (AUS) in 2:08.79.
Coventry's former teammate at Auburn and World Record holder Margaret Hoelzer (USA) was third in the final heat in 2:09.92. Elizabeth Simmonds (GBR) was first in 2:08.66, while Elizabeth Beisel, the 15 year old American star, was second in 2:09.02.