Beijing-The final heats session of the 2008 Olympic Games got under way with 2 Olympic Records in the men's 1500 free. It took a sub 14:50 to make the top 8, Hackett leads the way followed by Canada's Ryan Cochrane who is now the 2nd fastest swimmer in the event of all time.
Women's 50 Free
Olympic Record holder Inge de Bruijn (NED) is here in Beijing working for Dutch TV. Her time of 24.13 from Sydney is still the 3rd fastest swim of all time. Three of the other women in the top 10 are not here or not swimming the event in Beijing: Jessica Hardy (USA) out after a doping violation, Alice Mills (AUS) qualified for the relay only, and Lara Jackson (USA) who was 3rd at the US Trials and should have replaced Hardy, but time ran out to select her to the team.
Young Cate Campbell (AUS) won the first seeded heat over media darling Dara Torres (USA) 24.20 to 24.58. Torres swam a blazing anchor leg in the 4x100 free (52.44), but this was her first individual event.
In the second seeded heat, Marleen Veldhuis (NED) was the clear winner in 24.38. She is coming off a gold medal win in the 4x100 free relay. Second went to Jeannette Ottesen (DEN) in 24.83.
The final heat was won by Libby Trickett (AUS) in 24.67 over Britta Steffen (GER) in 24.90, reversing their positions from this morning's 100 free final, won by Steffen.
Men's 1500 Free
Grant Hackett (AUS) holds both the World and Olympic record. If he can defend his Olympic title, he will become the first man in history to do so 3 times. Gary Hall Jr. was in contention this year in the 50 free, but he missed the US team. Pieter van den Hoogenband (NED) made it to the Olympic final, but was 4 spots away from the challenge. Hackett is the last man standing.
His challenger has now shown his hand. Nineteen year old Ryan Cochrane (CAN) had a tremendous swim to break the Olympic Record in 14:40.84 and qualify 2nd for the final in 2 days time. Cochrane's time is the 2nd fastest of all time behind Hackett. The record stood for 30 minutes, then Hackett took it back, swimming his best time since 2001 with a 14:38.92.
The men now have 2 nights' sleep before they go head to head for Olympic gold.
Cochrane swam a beautiful race and has the best technique of the bunch outside Hackett. The Victoria, BC based swimmer has improved his turns over the last year by a huge margin and was beating Yuriy Prilukov (RUS) off every wall. Prilukov is the silver medallist in this event from '07 Worlds. He finished in his PB with a 14:41.13. In for 3rd was Athens' bronze medallist David Davies (GBR) at 14:46.11.
The second heat went to Ous Mellouli (TUN) in 14:47.76.
Two other men from Hackett's heat made the final. It took a sub 14:50 to make it. Second was Lin Zhang (CNH) in 14:45.84 (who trains with Hackett's old coach Denis Cotterell in Australia) and third to Larsen Jensen (USA) in 14:49.53. Jensen is the silver medallist in this event from Athens and the training partner of Mellouli at USC.
Of the top 10 all time swims, prior to heats today, 2 great swims stood at number 2 and 9: Kieren Perkins' (AUS) swim at the Commonwealth Games in Victoria in 1994 of 14:41.66 and Jorg Hoffman's (GER) World Champ win in Perth in 1991 of 14:50.36.
Women's 4x100 Medley Relay
The US women won the first heat in 3:59.15. They will have 4 new swimmers for the final, but will be challenged by the Aussies who won their heat in 3:57.94 and will have new swimmers as well.
Canada sits in 8th spot for the final with a 4:02.12, a new National Record. The British women sit in 2nd at 3:59.14, a new European Record, but that is their full team.
Men's 4x100 Medley Relay
The Aussie men got off to a flying start with a 3:32.81 win in the first heat. They were followed closely by Japan in 3:32.76, and Britain, with their best team, in 3:33.83.
In the second heat, the Americans won easily in 3:32.75, but they will have a new team for the final. Russia was second in 3:33.59 with New Zealand in third at 3:34.09, good enough for 6th heading into the final.