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Rice takes boost from NSW champs

13 February 2012

Stephanie Rice completed a confidence-boosting return from injury with a second placing in the women's 200m individual medley final at the NSW championships in Sydney on Sunday night.

Rice wrapped up her first meet since having shoulder surgery in December by clocking 2 minutes and 13.84 seconds to finish behind the impressive Emily Seebohm (2:11.55) on the final night of competition at Sydney Olympic Park.

The Triple Beijing gold medallist admitted on Friday her troublesome right shoulder had been a constant source of frustration since the surgery and said she was only swimming because it was an Olympic year.

However Rice said finishing second in both the 400m and 200m medley finals had given her a mental boost as she races to get herself right for next month's Olympic trials in Adelaide, starting on March 15.

"It was good to see where I am and that's the biggest confidence boost that I have got from it," the 23-year-old said.

"Even though the end time is not super quick or competitive in terms of the Olympic standard, it's given me a lot of confidence that I still have that base fitness that I've got from the seven years of training I have done.

"Now I just have to build up and work on those little skills ... and I know I'll be able to improve on these times at Olympic trials."

Seebohm completed a strong meet by backing up to win the 50m backstroke in 27.90.

Matt Abood claimed the 50m freestyle final in a slick 22.34, ahead of 100m world champion James Magnussen (22.65) and Korean star Park Tae Hwan (22.74).

Magnussen said earlier on Sunday that while he saw the 50m event primarily as a tool to improve his 100, he would not knock back the chance to race it at Olympics if he qualifies at the trials.

Comeback swimmers Michael Klim and Geoff Huegill renewed their long-running rivalry in the 100m butterfly final but proved no match for race winner Chris Wright (52.60).

Klim joked it was a case of deja vu for the pair, who finished second and third behind Swede Lars Frolander in the final at the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

That day Klim finished 0.04 seconds ahead of Huegill to claim the silver medal and eerily there was exactly the same margin between the pair almost 12 years on with Klim (53.53) edging Huegill (53.57) again.

Jayden Hadler (53.09) was second and Nick D'Arcy (53.33) third.

Bronte Barratt (1:56.92) took out the women's 200m freestyle final from an outside lane, ahead of Melanie Schlanger (1:57.32).

Liam Fitzgibbon

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