Double Dutch Downunder
Paul Quinlan

The unique Australian meet format now a regular event on the national swimming calendar for the third year continued to bamboozle some swimming watchers.

The format of the Invitational Meet is in three parts for men's and women's events:

  • fifty metre events in each of the four strokes are swum as elimination events at two minute intervals, with the last swimmer dropping out until two are left for the final to decide first and second places. This group of events on the program is similar to an interval training set in workout, namely 4x50m @ 2 min intervals.
  • four hundred freestyle is presented as a broken swim with a two minute interval between the 200m sections of the event. The winner of the first 200 receives a bonus of $1000, and the eventual places are decided by combining the times of each swimmer for both of his/her 200's. Once again a common training format for coaches world wide, the 'broken swim'.
  • the "Mystery 200m Individual Medley" is the only event on the program swum without breaks or intervals between laps. However the IM'ers have to draw lots for their own order of strokes. With all competitors swimming different orders of strokes it is almost impossible to keep track of the progress of the race until close to the end and only then if there is a standout athlete lucky enough to have drawn freestyle as his/her last stroke.

The format may have been double dutch to some but it was the pair from the Netherlands, Dutch team members, Peter van Hoogenband and Inge de Bruin who stood out among the international contingent of athletes flown in by the sponsor QANTAS for the publicity meet.

van Hoogenband took out the men's 50m freestyle event/s. Current men's world champion, Bill Pilczuk(USA) was eliminated in the first swim with a 24 secs high, citing a slow start on his part as the cause. Bill would have to have stood on his block waving the field "Goodbye!" to account for the two second deficit in his normal race pace.

World's top rated 50m butterflyer Inge de Bruin had to accept the freestyle invitation offered to her, but went on to win that series of 50's convincingly.

Penny Heynes(SA) was too good in the 50m breaststroke events outlasting national champion Helen Denman to take the 'skin' in this event.

Standouts for the Aussies were young backstroker Giaan Rooney, the Commonwealth 100m champion, winning the 50 backstrokes; Geoff Huegill who took out the men's 50m butterfly swims from improving comebacker Scott Miller; Matt Dunn who dominated the mystery IM; and finally Grant Hackett who showed everyone including the fastest ever 400m freestylers in world history, Kieren Perkins and Ian Thorpe, how to swim a broken 400. Daniel Kowalski as ever reliable took the second place money.

The concept continues to have public support in swimming conscious Sydney with good spectator turnouts. The program still televised nationwide in mid-prime time on Saturday night.

Swimmers also support the meet despite a very low prize money level, only $4,500 for the winner down to $500 for fifth place.

Compared to what happens on the tennis court or golf course our athletes are at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to prize money.

Multiple world champion and world record holder in men's 100m butterfly, Michael Klim, was however in the commentary box and not the pool, developing what hopefully will be a career for him in sports commentary with his Shannel 9 sponsor.

Michael did a fine job as support commentator to Nicole Stevenson. He will continue to perform at a high level in the pool when he resumes competition at what Gennadi Touretski predicts "a new high level" in 1999.