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Swimmers to feature in all Day 1 finals

28 July 2012

SWIMMING: Thomas Fraser-Holmes, Ryan Napoleon, Stephanie Rice and the women's 4x100 metre relay team have progressed to finals on Saturday night in London.

Fraser- Holmes was the first Australian swimmer through to a final at the 2012 London Olympic Games after qualifying fifth in a drama pack men’s 400 metre individual medley that saw American superstar Michael Phelps scrape into the final in the eighth and last position.

Defending champion Phelps won his heat in 4:13.33, touching out 2008 Beijing Olympic Games silver medallist Laszlo Cseh by a mere 0.07 seconds.

Fraser-Holmes has now qualified for a final with his first Olympic swim although he wasn’t overly happy with his time of 4:12.66.

“I wasn’t please with that at all, I stuffed up a few things which is pretty common for my first swim,” Fraser-Holmes said.

“Hopefully tonight I can get in the game a little more. The sky’s the limit (tonight). I want to do a PB, I  want to get as close to that 4:10 as possible.

“If I can’t I can’t but i’m in an Olympic final and thats great in itself."

Fellow 20-year-old Australian Daniel Tranter was 32nd in 4:25.76 in his Olympic debut.

The last Australian male to win an Olympic medal in the event was Rob Woodhouse way back in 1984 in Los Angeles

Women’s 100m butterfly

Alicia Coutts, 24, has cruised through to the women’s 100m butterfly semi-finals with the third fastest heat time of 57.36 behind American Dana Vollmer (56.25).

Coutts will have a busy night tonight with the semi-final and 4x100m freestyle relay final.

Triple Olympian Jessicah Schipper clocked a 59.17 and finished in 24th.

Men’s 400m freestyle

Ryan Napoleon, who 16 years ago as a six year-old declared he would swim at an Olympics, has qualified for the men’s 400m freestyle final in sixth place after posting a time of 3:47.01.

Napoleon had finished third in his heat behind his training partner under Michael Bohl, South Korea’s reigning Olympic champion, Park Taehwan, and Hungarian Gergo Kis before Park was sensationally disqualified when he climbed out of the pool for moving on the starting blocks.

The Brisbane-based building design student said he was in a very competitive field but hoped he had saved a little for tonight’s final.

“There’s a lot of guys around the same time – it’s tough to try and place yourself without over exerting yourself too much,” Napoleon said.

David McKeon, whose father and coach Ron swam at the 1980 Moscow and 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, finished in 13th place following his swim of 3:48.57.

The event was shaping up as a showdown between Chinese 1500m world record holder Sun Yang and Park, but now sees Sun Yang at prohibitive odds.

Women’s 400m individual medley

Australia’s 2008 Beijing Olympic golden girl Stephanie Rice is on track to defend the first of her three titles after qualifying seventh fastest in the women’s 400m individual medley.

Rice stormed home in the freestyle leg to finish a comfortable second in her heat, getting through the arduous four-stroke marathon in 4:35.76, and then said she enjoyed the experience and was looking forward to the final.

“I was actually pretty relaxed before that heat which I really enjoyed,” Rice said.

“I usually get really nervous before the first race, not knowing how I’m going to go.

“I know that I’m in the final now that I’ll be able to go faster than that tonight.”

World champion Elizabeth Beisel (USA) was quickest in the heats with a time of 4:31.68 ahead of China’s Ye Shiwen, who was fifth at last year’s FINA World Championships in Shanghai, in 4:31.73.

Great Britain’s hometown favourite Hannah Miley was sixth in 4:34.58 and shapes as another challenger for Rice tonight.

Western Australian Blair Evans, swimming for the first time at the Olympic Games, finished in 13th place in 4:40.42 and missed the final.

Men's 100m breaststroke

Australian champion Christian Sprenger has posted a personal best of 59.62 – to clock the fastest time of the heats of the men’s 100m breaststroke.

Sprenger was fingernail ahead of Japan’s Kosuke Kitajima on 59.63, while Australian veteran Brenton Rickard qualified 14th with a time of 1:00.07.

Like Phelps in the 200 and 400m individual medley and 100 and 200m butterfly,  Kitajima is aiming to create history by winning a third straight Olympic crown in multiple events, being the 100 and 200m breaststroke. Now Sprenger has the potential to stand in his way.

Sprenger said he was in top shape but thought he would have to improve again to qualify for the final and then win a medal.

“Coming into this meet i felt pretty confident, I feel a lot better than I did at trials, coming into the meet,” Sprenger said.

“I think it’s going to take a 59-low to be competitive, especially podium wise so i think I can. I’ll go back and talk to my coach and see where some points can be made and reset for tonight.”

Women’s 4x100m freestyle relay

The combination of Emily Seebohm (54.24), Brittany Elmslie (53.21), Yolane Kukla (54.61) and Libby Trickett (54.08) have given Australia a great chance of winning the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay after posting the fastest time in this morning’s heats.

The Australians won heat two, clocking 3:36.34, to finish 0.19 ahead of heat one victor the USA and more than a second ahead of world record holders and defending Olympic champion the Netherlands (3:37.76).

One member of this morning’s quartet will now join Melanie Schlanger, Cate Campbell and Alicia Coutts in the final after the team’s coach Shannon Rollason elected to rest them from this morning’s heats.

That fourth team member will be decided after a meeting of coaches and swimmers before tonight’s finals session with Elmslie and Trickett the probable front runners for the spot.

Elmslie, 18, was the fastest of the four Australians and said she just tried to enjoy the moment of her first Olympic swim.

“It was crazy, the atmosphere was awesome and I just tried to relax and enjoy it as much as possible,” Elmslie said.

“My training has been going amazingly well and I really just put the perfect race together out there and I’m really happy with how I swum.”

Meanwhile Trickett praised her younger teammates.

“The girls did an amazing job for me and I didn’t have to do much to maintain the lead,” Trickett, a six-time Olympic medallist said.

“I’m just really proud to be a part of that team because the next oldest is seven years younger than me. I think people like Brit and Yo stepped up and did an amazing job to get us through to be the fastest qualifier tonight and we can’t ask for much more than that, especially of those girls.”

Trickett was in the team when the Australians finished third in Beijing four years ago and won gold at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

David Lyall in London
Olympics.com.au

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