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Hawke swoops past semis into freestyle final

03 August 2002

The 50m freestyle gets underway in earnest with two new Games records.

Brett Hawke

Hawke grabs new Games record

Australia and England will each have two swimmers in contention for the 50m freestyle final tomorrow. But South africa go one better with three.

South African, Roland Schoeman (22.52) cruised to victory in the first heat beating Mark Foster’s 22.58, set in Kuala Lumpur four years ago.

Another South African, Ryk Neeling (22.62) qualified in second, with Canada’s Craig Hutchison (22.96) taking third.

England’s Matt Kidd (23.06) had to wait until the second heat to know if he would qualify as a fastest loser.

Widely regarded the swimming equivalent to the athletics 100m sprint event, the 50m freestyle will determine the Commonwealth’s fastest swimmer.

The morning’s heats had not provided many clues as to who will eventually take the title, with the favourites keen to hold on to every burst of energy for the latter stages.

The second heat provided the first real glimpse of veteran Foster’s form.

Following not only a disappointing 50m butterfly, but losing his Games record seconds before he dived in the pool, Foster, at his fifth Commonwealth Games started to show his mettle.

He commented afterwards that the Games “was the best competition he’d ever been to”.

Brett Hawke (22.29) had changed his suit for the semis, and looked the man to beat in a far more competitive second heat. The new Games record was barely two minutes old before being smashed once more.

Foster (22.45) finished second, yet kept pace with Hawke throughout, despite the Sydney born swimmer’s superior start.

Ashley Callus (22.67) of Australia took third, with the South African, Nicholas Folker (23.23) taking a fastest loser berth with Kidd.

Tomorrow’s final will provide a thrilling showdown of the finest short distance swimmers not only in the Commonwealth, but in the world.

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