Frenchman shatters world swimming record

Three days, three records.

Alain Bernard set a world record in the 50m freestyle on Sunday after twice lowering the 100m freestyle mark in the previous two days at the European swimming championships.

The muscular Frenchman swam 21,5 seconds to beat the time of 21,56 set last month by Eamon Sullivan of Australia, who lowered Alexander Popov’s previous record of 21,64 set in Moscow on June 16 2000.

”I had to stay calm for this semifinal,” Bernard said. ”I had an excellent start, which is not that usual for me. Then I thought I had to exploit my fantastic shape here in Eindhoven. I put all my power on at 35m.”

Bernard set a world record of 47,5 seconds to win the 100m freestyle final on Saturday. That took one-10th of a second off the record of 47,6 seconds he swam on Friday in the semifinals to shatter Pieter van den Hoogenband’s old mark set at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

On Sunday, Bernard (24) easily beat Stefan Nystrand of Sweden, who finished in 22,12 in their second semifinal to be third fastest into the final.

After touching the wall and looking up at the scoreboard to see his time, Bernard took his now familiar perch on the lane ropes, punched the air and pointed to his coach, who cheered with him.

Russian teenager Anastasia Zueva won her second gold of the championships in the 50m backstroke in a European record, adding to her victory in the 100m backstroke — also in a European record time — on Friday.

The 17-year-old Zueva’s time of 28,05 seconds was well outside the world record set earlier in the day and on the other side of the world by Sophie Edington, who clocked 27,67 seconds at the Australian Olympic trials in Sydney.

Nina Zhivanevskaya of Spain, the 2003 world champion and holder of the old European record, was second and Sanja Jovanovic of Croatia was third.

World record holder Oleg Lisogor of Ukraine took the European 50m breaststroke in 27,43 seconds after sharing the title for the past two years with Alessandro Terrin of Italy following the pair’s tie at the last European championships. This time, Terrin had to settle for bronze as Alexander Dale Oen took silver.

Lisogor said if the race had been 5m further, ”then someone else would have won, but not me. I was so exhausted on the last metres.”

With world champion Laure Manaudou not racing, Sara Isakovic of Slovenia won the women’s 200m freestyle in 1:57.45, touching just ahead of Olympic champion Camelia Potec of Romania and third-placed Agnes Mutina of Hungary.

Evgeny Korotyshkin of Russia won the men’s 100m butterfly in 51,89 seconds and sealed a place at the Olympics after starting in lane eight because he had the slowest qualifying time. A bearded Peter Mankoc of Slovenia was second in 52,07 and Rafael Munoz Perez of Spain was third in 52,09.

”Yesterday I was very happy the reach the final as the last qualifier in lane eight,” Korotyshkin said. ”Our federation told us that any European champion would book his Olympic ticket.”

Mankoc said he would shave off his beard for next month’s world short-course championships in Manchester, England, where he wants to break the European 100m butterfly record.

In her last season of competitive swimming, continental record holder Flavia Rigamonti of Switzerland won the first-ever European championship women’s 1 500m final in 15:58,54. Erika Villaecija of Spain collected her second silver of the championships after placing second in the 800m freestyle, and Lotte Friis of Denmark was third.

Garcia started fastest, but was caught at the 850m mark by Rigamonti, who set her European record last year when she was second to Kate Ziegler of the United States at the world championships in Melbourne, Australia.

”I was not hot on breaking the European record; I just wanted to swim a good race,” she said after just failing to better her record. ”Ill definitely retire … after the Olympic Games in Beijing.”

Markus Rogan added the 200m backstroke title to the 100m backstroke gold he won earlier in the championships. The Austrian touched in 1:55,85, ahead of European record holder Arkady Vyatchanin of Russia and Razvan Florea of Romania.

In the evening’s final race, Filippo Magnini anchored Italy to their fifth straight 800m freestyle title in 7:09,94. Russia were second and Austria third.

In the diving competition, Julia Pakhalina of Russia won the women’s 3m springboard with 347,4 points. The German pair of Sascha Klein and Patrick Hausding won the men’s 10m platform synchro. — Sapa-AFP

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