Four world records set on final day of World Swimming Championships

Monday, August 3, 2009

michael-phelpsROME - The final session at the Foro Italico at the world swimming championships in Rome saw four world records being broken to take the tally for the eight-day meet to an incredible 43.

The US 4×100m individual medley relay team consisting of Aaron Peirsol, Eric Shanteau, Michael Phelps and David Walters broke their own world record in the final swim of the tournament here Sunday.

The first two swims of the session also saw two world records with Briton Liam Tancock and Russian Yuliya Efimova, who managed to set new best marks in the men’s 50m backstroke and the women’s 50m breaststroke respectively.

Also getting a world record was Germany’s Britta Steffen in the women’s 50m freestyle.

The US medley relay team won in a time of 3:27.28, beating their own world record time of 3:29.34 which they swam in Beijing.

Germany finished second in a time of 3:28.58, with anchor man Paul Biedermann managing to just move ahead of Matthew Targett, who took the Australian team home in 3:28.64.

Germany’s Queen of the sprints Steffen added the 50m freestyle title to her world championship 100m freestyle gold she won earlier in the week.

Steffen, who already achieved a sprint-sweep at the Olympics in Beijing last year, won in a world record time of 23.73, beating the 23.96 Marleen Veldhuis swam in April.

Sweden’s Therese Alshammar won the silver medal in a time of 23.88, while Briton’s Cate Campbell and Marleen Veldhuis both took the bronze medal with a time of 23.99.

American 42-year-old Dara Torres, who finished eighth in the final, paid a tribute to Steffen after the race. “She is an incredible athlete and that is a terrific time. It will stand for years.”

Steffen said that she did not expect to win. “50m is like a lottery. I was really surprised that I managed to get the gold. My aim was to swim a 23.8. The nice thing about swimming over this distance is that it is not sore to swim one lap, it is a lot of fun. I was simply lucky.”

Tunisian Oussama Mellouli repeated his Beijing success in the men’s 1,500m, winning in a time of 14:37.28 to beat Ryan Cochrane, who lead for much of the race.

The Canadian finished in a time of 14:41.38. China’s Sun Yang won the bronze medal, 9.56 seconds behind Mellouli.

In the women’s 400m individual medley Hungarian Katinka Hosszu, who went into the race with bronze medals from the 200m butterfly and 200m IM, added gold in a time of 4:30.31.

Zimbabwean Kirsty Coventry took the silver medal in a time of 4:32.12, while Stephanie Rice won bronze 1.98 seconds behind Hosszu.

Ryan Lochte won the 400m individual medley to add to his 200 IM title and the two gold medals he won in the relays to take his personal gold tally to four.

Lochte’s compatriot Scott Tyler Clary took second place in a time of 4:07.31, while Hungarian Lazlo Cseh won the bronze in 4:07.37.

Lochte said he suffered at the end. “I thought the last 50 was the last 150 and it really hurt. I had a body length lead and I said to myself: ‘Please don’t blow this it hurts too much to lose this’ and I gave everything I had at the end and thats all I could ask of myself.

Lochte said that he was saddened that Phelps was not swimming the medleys anymore. “I wish Michael was there because he is a great swimmer and I love competing against him. Hopefully he will be there. I am trying to talk him into that but I am not sure if it will work.”

Lochte said he was glad that the week was over. “It was really tough. My birthday is tomorrow, so I will definitely go and celebrate.”

Earlier in the final session of the championships, Tancock and Efimova opened the swims in the Foro Italico with two world records.

Tamcock, who already broke the world record to get into the final of the men’s 50m backstroke, swam a 20.04 to take the gold medal from Japan’s Junya Koga, who was 0.20 seconds slower.

South African Gerhard Zandberg was a surprise bronze medal winner in 24.34 seconds.

Tamcock swam four hundredths of a second faster than the world record he established on Saturday.

In the women’s 50m breaststroke, Efimova proved too strong for the field as she won in a time of 30.09 to break Amanda Reason’s world record time of 30.23.

American Rebecca Soni was second in a time of 30.11, while Australian Sarah Katsoulis took the bronze medal in a time of 30.16.

Phelps, who won five gold medals and one silver medal, was honoured at the end with the trophy for the men’s swimmer scoring the most points, while Italian Federica Pellegrini won the women’s award.

The US also won the award for the highest-scoring team.

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