SHANGHAI – The finals of the men's 50-meter freestyle will have a decidedly Auburn flair as three former Tiger swimmers advanced from Friday evening's semi-final at the 2011 FINA World Championships.
Cesar Cielo, the world record-holder in the event, qualified second with a 21.79 as he seeks to defend his 2009 World Championships gold medal. Also the defending Olympic gold medalist, Cielo clocked a 22.03 in preliminaries to share the top qualifying time with two others.
One of the others was former Tiger George Bovell. Swimming for his home country of Trinidad & Tobago, Bovell's 22.03 in preliminaries tied Cielo and American Nathan Adrian for the fastest time in the morning session. In the semi-finals, Bovell posted a 22.02 to tie for sixth place and earn a spot in Saturday's championship final.
A third former Auburn swimmer, Gideon Louw, posted the same mark as Bovell in the semi-final with a 22.02 to advance to the championship. Louw shaved a huge amount off his preliminary time of 22.21 as he gave Auburn alumni three of the eight spots in the championship final.
Australia's Matt Targett, seeking his third medal of the week, fell a scant .02 seconds short of reaching the final as he tied for ninth place with a 22.09. A fifth former Auburn swimmer, Adam Brown, was 13th in the semi-finals with a 22.21. Fred Bousquet, the sixth former Tiger swimming in the event, clocked a 22.38 in preliminaries to finish 21st.
In women's competition, Kirsty Coventry qualified for the semi-finals in the 200 backstroke, finishing 12th with a 2:08.33. She was a bit faster in the preliminary heat with a 2:08.03, qualifying seventh overall. Alana Dillette competed in the 50 butterfly prelims, turning in a 27.88 to finish 34th.
The men's 50 freestyle championship is the second event of Saturday evening's session, which gets underway at 6 p.m. local time (5 a.m. CST). Other events featuring Auburn swimmers on Saturday include the women's 50 freestyle, where Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace will compete. Live results and full coverage is available through fina.org.