For the first time since his comeback from retirement, and therefore the first time since at least 2006, Australia’s Ian Thorpe raced the 400 free at a meet in Switzerland this weekend.
The middle-distance race is one where Thorpe has won two individual gold medals (2000 and 2004), but it’s an event he’s claimed to be avoiding in his comeback. He won the event in 3:59.48, which ranks him in the top 20 of Australian swimmers in 2012.
Thorpe has made his training home in Switzerland since his comeback, and this was his first time actually swimming a race there. What to make of the swim is up for debate. It’s hard to believe that he’s actually considering this race for Australian Trials in a few weeks. More likely than that is it was just a test of training, and given that he’s working on a 100/200 schedule, breaking 4 minutes was probably a positive outcome for him as he’s getting ready to start his taper.
Among other exciting races in the meet was the men’s 100 free. The Ukraine’s Andrey Grechin, who has been swimming a lot of races in the past 6 months, took a win in a solid 50.06. That just out-touched Switzerland’s top sprinter Flori Lang in 51.02. Thorpe finished 4th in that race in 52.28, which is not close to the best time of his return.