As the sun set on Friday in Melbourne, Victoria, former Australian World Record holder Michael Klim has completed his inaugural return meet, the first week of the 2011 Victorian Qualifier. Overall, the return was a successful one – at least as successful as his countrymate Ian Thorpe’s earlier this month.
In long course competition, Klim raced his way first to a 51.03 on his 100 meter split en route to a full 200 (he was racing the first 100 for a split), and a 23.11 in the 50 free.
That 100 meter time, however, was in dispute after the meet. Klim’s coach, Rohan Taylor, claims to have hand-timed him in a 49.89 for that first-half split in the 200 meter race. It will take another meet to confirm exactly how good he is, but if the 49.88 is accurate, then this is a phenomenal comeback. That mark that Taylor scored seems almost too good to believe – it’s certainly well above the level of a 23.11 in the 50. Those in attendance claim that the touch-pad didn’t register until Klim’s feet hit it, rather than his hand, in the time-trial turn. If that is true, then a sub-50 split is certainly a reasonable result.
As Klim begins the long climb back to the top of the Australian rankings, that 50-meter time ties him for 20th in Australia this year, and the 100 meter time ranks him somewhere near the bottom of the top 30 (though, the 49.88 would put him in the top-12).
To place in the top 6 at the 2011 Australian Nationals, the equivalent of earning a relay spot, it took only a 49.16 (relatively slow in international terms for a gold-medal winning squad). That mark figures to drop considerably this season with the addition of Klim and Thorpe back into the mix; the typical Olympic-year surge; and the continued improvements from the likes of Kyle Richardson and Cameron McEvoy, that number will probably move to at least a 48.7 or 48.8 for a relay swim.
Overall, he finished 2nd-to-last in the 200 free in 2:23.30, though he was basically cooling down on the back-half.