FINA World Cup 11 - Day 1 Report

GELSENKIRCHEN - Stev Theloke announced on Friday that because of a flu he would not take part in the meet at the Zentral Bad, in Gelsenkirchen. The German backstroker in a relaxed mood, has already won his category, with two more meets to go. He is in the lead with 94 points, from 5 meetsout of a maximum of 6 allowed, and an edge of over 40 points on his closest rivals.

The final session of the first day one opened with the unexpected victory of 21-year-old Sergei Ashikmin (RUS) in the mens 100 free. The fight for second was between Stefan Herbst (GER) and Mitja Zastrow (GER), both of Germany, who touched simultaneously, however Herbst got the second place by the thinnest advantage, 0.01 sec., in 49.12. His victory was prompty by the absence of fast Brazilian sprinter Fernando Scherer, missed qualifying, finishing in 8th in the prelims. There are only 6 lanes at the Zentral Bad.

Franziska van Almsick (GER) also complained from a flu virus, was very happy with her 200 freestyle win, in 1:58.31, an event that she had won twice earlier in the circuit. Desiree Beckers (GER) was in the lead at the 150 1:28.69 to 1:29.06. Beckers second with 1:58.42. It was a good quality final, with the first four placings under the

Mark Warnecke (GER) had a clearcut victory in the 50 breaststroke, in which he is the world record holder. The 28-year-old swimmer from nearby Essen won in 27.59 an event that saw, probably for the first time, the award of five medals, instead of the usual three. In fact for both the second and the third place two swimmers tied their times.

In the women's 100 breaststroke, Agnes Kovacs' (HUN) winning time of 1:07.47 was one of the best in this year circuit. Kovacs, who is coached by Lazslo Kiss and swims for the Budapest based Spartakus Club said: "This was my first short course competition after four years and thus it was quite easy to improve my personal best. I'm really no short course specialist-my turn and my start are not very good. Im sure that I'll be able to do a better performance tomorrow. For the second place Sarah Poewe (RSA) touched in 1:08.57 just 0.04 sec. ahead of Han Xue (CHN).

In the men's 400 IM Christian Keller (GER) managed to touch in front with 4:11.37 of Tom Wilkens (USA), who had won the event in the two previous meets.

In the women's 100 fly, a sub minute time was needed to win. Junko Onishi (JPN) did 59.78. Mandy Loots (RSA) was the fastest qualifyer with 59.97, came in only in fourth place, with a slower time (1:00.33).

First World Cup win Thomas Rupprath (GER) in the 100 backstroke, in 53.43.

In the women's 50 back Sandra Volker, 24, touched in 28.06 ahead of Antje Buschschulte winner this event three times in the current series.

Denis Silantiev (UKR) won in the 200 fly in 1:55.59. He has overtaken Geoff Huegill (AUS) in the fly category with 84 points. Silantiev said, "I don't actually like short course events since I have poor turns and istarts. I'm not quite happy with my performance today. But I had to take a 10 day break because of a serious influenza." Silantiev won over 19-year-old Anatoli Poliakov (RUS) with 1:58.33.

Yana Klochkova (UKR) collected her fourth 200 m IM with 2:12.31. The 16-year-old Ukrainian is challenging for the leadership in the IM point category. With this victory she now shares second place with Joanne Malar (CAN) both with 87 points. However Klochkova has one more swim to go in this meet and will also swim in the final World Cup in Imperia.

Jorg Hoffman (GER) won his third consecutive 400 freestyle in 3:43.68. In second place Chad Carvin (USA) with 3:45.96, beat the Pieter van den Hoogenband (NED) by 02.01 sec. The 20-year-old Dutch freestyler is back in heavy training, in preparation for the Hong Kong Worlds, where he will swim the 100, 200 and 400 m events. Hoffman has the point lead in the distance freestyle category. Hoffman was hoping to challenge the world record.

Susan Rolph (GBR) won the 50 free in 25.06 ahead of Katrin Meissner (GER) 25.23. It was the second win in this event for Rolph while Meissner has won it four times in the current series. Rolp is moving up womens sprint category with 87 points. Meissner is still in the lead with 92. Rolph said: "It will be a close decision with regard to the World Cup victory but Im happy with today's performance. These were my fastest 50m in this years World Cup. I wont compete in Imperia." Meissner: Throughout the entire World Cup season I've been able to hold a similar level of performance. And if Rolph does not compete in Imperia next week I will win the overall World Cup rankings.

Dimitri Komornikov, 17-year-old Moscovite, coached by Vladislav Lukhinski, emerged at last summer's European junior championships. Here he delighted the crowd with his easy win in the 200 m breaststroke. He showed a superb technique and a full command of the competitive strategy. He clocked and excellent 2:09.47 (1:03.19 at the 100), the fastest time in this year's World Cup series. the 16th Pavel Anokhin (RUS) second with 2:11.08.

22-year-old middle distance freestyler Kirsten Vlieghuis (NED) who won the 1998 World Cup in this category, won in her favourite event, the 800 free with 8:33.63. She is prepartion for the Short Course Worlds in April.

Antje Buschschulte (GER) won her fifth 200 backstroke World Cup victory this season in 2:09.04. Julia Fomenko (RUS) in second with 2:09.37 and Yoshiko Saito (JPN) this with 2:09.74. With the 17 points collected today (117 points overall), the German swimmer overtakes Canada's Kelly Stefanyshyn with 101 points. Fomenko lives in Rostov-Don where she is coached by Sergeiy Vorodin.

Fly sprinter Mark Foster (GER) who trains partly in Germany with Dirk Lange and partly in Bath, England, is after the car, offered for the best performance of the meet. His winning time in the 50 butterfly was 23.82, just ahead of Milos Milosevic (CRO) with 23.87 and Thomas Rupprath (GER) 23.96 a national record. Foster scored 988 points.

In the morning heats Denis Pankratov (RUS)in his first appearance had no luck, was disqualified for leaving the block before the starting signal.

Germany won 8 events out of a total of 17, closing in on Australia. The Aussies have won 68 gold medals so far in 10 and a half World Cups and the Germans 67.