Classy Steffen sinks another world mark

German wins 100M freestyle as more records tumble in the pool

 Germany’s Britta Steffen is delighted after her  success in the 100M freestyle in Rome on Friday. AP

Olympic champion Steffen swam 52.07 seconds to beat the mark of 52.22 she set earlier in the meet during the 4x100 relay.

Britain's Fran Halsall was second with 2007 world champion Libby Trickett of Australia third.  "I'm so happy, I can't find words. It was crazy and nice to swim with these seven girls," Steffen told reporters.  "I had a new suit and it's very fast and I've been able to do these times."

The day’s action was on predictable lines with more world records crashing against the might of polyurethane swimsuits.  Soon after Steffen had set her mark, Aaron Peirsol ripped up his own world record to win the men's 200 metres backstroke final. The American swam one minute 51.92 to beat the mark of 1:53.08 he set at the US trials earlier this month.

Japan's Ryosuke Irie finished second with Ryan Lochte, the American who broke the world record to win Thursday's 200 individual medley, third.  The victory was sweet revenge for Peirsol who was unceremoniously dumped out of the 100 backstroke semifinals as title holder and Olympic champion.

Serbia's Nadja Higl touched home first to claim victory in an exciting climax to the women's 200 metres breaststroke final. Higl swam two minutes, 21.62 seconds to win the gold medal just in front of Canada's Annamay Pierse, who had set a new world record of 2:20.12 in the semis.

American Olympic champion Rebecca Soni set off strongly and looked on course to claim a golden double with a world record time after she won the 100M breaststroke title on Tuesday. But she faded in the final 50M.

Milorad Cavic broke Michael Phelps's world record in the men's 100 metres butterfly semifinals. The Serbian swam 50.01 seconds to beat Phelps's mark of 50.22 set earlier this month. Phelps also qualified for Saturday's final with a time of 50.48 in the first semi.
Sweden's Therese Alshammar broke the women's 50 metres butterfly world record just moments after Magdalena Veldhuis pulled off the same feat. Defending champion Alshammar swam 25.07 to win her semifinal.

Results:
Men: 200M backstroke: Aaron Peirsol (US) 1:51.92 (world record) 1; Ryosuke Irie (Japan) 1:52.51, 2; Ryan Lochte (US) 1:53.82, 3.  200M breaststroke: Daniel Gyurta (Hungary) 2:07.64, 1; Eric Shanteau (US) 2:07.65, 2; Giedrius Titenis (Lithuania) and Christian Sprenger (Australia) 2:07.80, 3. 4x200M freestyle relay:  United States 6:58.55 (World record) 1; Russia 6:59.15, 2; Australia 7:01.65, 3.

Women: 100M freestyle: Britta Steffen (Germany) 52.07 (world record) 1; Francesca Halsall (Britain) 52.87, 2; Libby Trickett (Australia) 52.93, 3.
200M breaststroke: Nadja Higl (Serbia) 2:21.62, 1; Annamay Pierse (Canada) 2:21.84, 2; Mirna Jukic (Austria) 2:21.97, 3.

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