- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 17, 2009

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA (AP) - Triple Olympic gold medalist Stephanie Rice won the 200-meter individual medley at the Australian swimming championships Tuesday, ensuring she’ll be in Rome for the world titles in July.

Rice, in her first major meet since winning the 200 and 400 IMs at the Beijing Olympics and the 200 freestyle relay _ all in world record time _ beat Emily Seebohm in the 200 medley Tuesday after earlier finishing second in the 200 freestyle.

Rice, who had a two-month layoff after the Olympics, said she was pleased with her performances despite a quick turnaround time in the two races.

“I barely had my cap and goggles on before I walked out for that race,” she said. “With the preparation I have had I am really happy.”

Rice is scheduled to swim in seven events over six nights at the championships, which double as selection trials for Rome.

Nick D’Arcy, who was kicked off the Australian Olympic team for Beijing after being charged with assault, returned to the pool to beat his national record in the 200 butterfly by two thirds of a second.

D’Arcy will be sentenced on March 27 in Sydney after pleading guilty last November to inflicting bodily harm on former Commonwealth Games medalist Simon Cowley in a barroom fight last March.

The maximum sentence is 10 years in jail. Any time in prison could jeopardize his chances of going to Rome on the Australian team.

“I don’t think it could have got much worse, the only way to go is up,” D’Arcy said after his race.

The first day of the trials which end Saturday was overshadowed by a controversy involving Swedish world champion Therese Alshammar.

Alshammar broke her own 50-meter butterfly world record in the morning heats Tuesday but was later disqualified by Swimming Australia for wearing two swimsuits.

Alshammar set a time of 25.44 seconds to take 0.02 of a second off the record 25.46 she set at Barcelona, Spain on June 13, 2007.

But officials later discovered that Alshammar was wearing two swimsuits in the race and ruled that the time would not stand. Swimming Australia said that under swimming governing body FINA’s new rules that were ratified last weekend, and Swimming Australia’s rules instituted last year, Alshammar would be disqualified because it states that swimmers may only wear one suit.

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