Published: Jun 3, 2012 11:02:34 AM Updated: Jul 9, 2012 09:06:34 AM
Olympic champion Stephanie Rice and teammate Bronte Barratt have set the tone for Australia on the third night of competition at the Santa Clara International in California today, with world class swims in windy and cold conditions.
Rice won her first gold medal of the meet in the 400m IM, stopping the clock in an impressive 4:35.87, just 54 days away from her attempt to win back-to-back Olympic titles in the event.
Always a great racer, the 23-year-old had to hold off a strong breaststroke leg from the USA’s Caitlin Leverenz (4:37.13) to win, and said the time is similar to where she was at four years ago leading into the Beijing Olympics.
“I was swimming 4:35 (seconds) around this same time in the lead up to Beijing, so that definitely gives me plenty of confidence at this stage of the preparation,” said Rice.
“But with Hannah Miley (from Great Britain) going 4:34 recently, there’s plenty of competition out there and definitely more work to do.”
Fellow St Peters Western swimmer Bronte Barratt picked up her second gold medal of the meet, wining the 200m freestyle in a new meet record time of 1:57.17.
The 23-year-old who will swim the event in London took 0.01 of a second off her previous record at this meet set in 2008, which also suggests Barratt is on track to perform as she did in Beijing, where she was a member of the gold medal winning 4x200m freestyle relay team.
“I’ve just been feeling really relaxed the last couple of days and I think that has been helping with my swimming and my confidence,” said Barratt.
Barratt was followed into the wall by Dana Vollmer in 1:57.25, while Brittany Elmslie finished seventh overall in 2:00.95. Fellow Queenslander Ellen Fullerton was also seventh in the 200m IM in 4:48.09.
Meagen Nay showed she is well and truly on track with her Olympic preparation to post a solid 2:08.04 to win gold in the women’s 200m backstroke. The Commonwealth Games gold medallist was too strong for fellow Queenslander Emily Seebohm who posted one of her best swims in the event, hitting the wall in 2:08.88.
Victorian Travis Mahoney finished fourth in the men’s 200m backstroke in 2:01.84 with Ashley Delaney sixth in 2:02.53 and Mitch Larkin seventh in 2:03.25.
Winning Australia’s third individual gold medal of the night, and fourth of the meet was 16-year-old Yolane Kukla who was too good in the women’s 50m freestyle in a time of 24.97 with Libby Trickett taking bronze in 25.22. Elmslie finished eighth in 25.79.
St Peters Western swimmer Ryan Napoleon picked up his third medal of the meet with a strong showing in the men’s 200m freestyle. Napoleon stopped the clock in 1:48.66 to win silver from Korea’s Taehwan Park who won in 1:46.88. Ned McKendry (1:51.90) and Kenrick Monk (1:53.11) finished eighth and ninth respectively.
The Queensland team of Rice, Barratt, Elmslie and Kylie Palmer finished off the night with victory in the 4x200m freestyle relay in a time of 8:02.67, while Nick D’Arcy, McKendry, Monk and Napoleon also hit the wall in second in 7:26.60.
For full results from the Santa Clara International go to www.usaswimming.org
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