Ariana Kukors zipped into her shiny Jaked and sped to a world record of 2:06.15 to win the 200m medley crown as second day of the circus ends with a stunning but damning indictment of the sad suits saga that transformed swimming into an equipment-based sport in February 2008.
Olympic champion Stephanie Rice looked like second-class as she matched what Kukors had clocked in the semis: 2:07.03. She too was in a Jaked, a suit that provides different benefits to different people over different distances and on different strokes. As such, there is no telling how big the gap between Kukors and Rice really is. No telling where Katinka Hosszu (HUN) would have placed in other circumstances. In the circus, the Hungarian was good for an arena X-Glide European record of 2:07.46, which delivered bronze ahead of Olympic backstroke champion and medley silver medallist Kirsty Coventry (ZIM), on 2:08.94 and swimming in the same conditions as she did in 2008, in a LZR.
"It's been a whirlwind the last couple of days," she said. Last month in fact: 2:11s at US trials, then a best in heats, a massive best in semis and a bombshell of a final. "I'm very happy with my swim," said Kukors in rather comical fashion. She missed out on a top-two finish at the US trials but got the nod to swim the event when Elizabeth Pelton withdrew to focus on another event.
"I was only able to swim this event because of a scratch from one of my teammates so I really took advantage of that opportunity and each chance I get to race in such an amazing field it's really exciting and I just wanted to get my hand on the wall," she said.
Rice said it was all about the race not the time: "I just really raced the race, raced the girls. Obviously seeing Ariana swim last night, she had a fantastic time. I definitely knew it was going to be around 2:06 tonight." That time had been "mind-blowing". Quite.
The splits compared:
What a farce. The new all-time top 10:
And how things looked in the Dark Ages coming out of Melbourne 2007:
Men's 50m butterfly final:
Milorad Cavic (SRB), the nearly man behind Michael Phelps in Beijing over 100m last year, claimed the world 50m 'fly crown in 22.67 ahead of Matt targett (AUS), on 22.73, and Rafa Munoz (ESP), on 22.88 and shy of his 22.43 world record. All suits were shiny. Cavic had a word for the world-record holder: "Munoz is a great swimmer but he was never going to beat me when it counted."
After the race Cavic lambasted FINA for having allowed shiny suits into the race pool, said that he had been robbed of victory by Omega's timing system in Beijing and that he had come to Rome not for the 50m gold but for the 100m victory, which remained in his targets. He said that he would happily exploit the controversial super-suits if it meant beating Michael Phelps in his LZR in the 100m butterfly.
"I've given this a lot of thought, throughout this whole year I've just been hearing a lot of white noise over this suit battle," he said. "FINA (the International Swimming Federation) has spoken, they've approved the suits. I don't like it but they've made a decision and who knows what would've happened last year. What I'm trying to say is that technology is the problem here and I think everybody is blaming the technology.
"Last year it was me and a lot of people blaming Omega for not having a better technology because I did touch the wall first (ahead of Phelps) but I did not activate the wall first. This is a problem of technology but this is FINA and Omega's problem. If I was to beat Phelps and people were to say Cavic beat Phelps because of the suit, this is again FINA's decision.
"And too bad Speedo did not have the foresight to see this and produce a (faster) suit which would have a Speedo emblem on it."
He was not bitter about his Olympic experience. "What happened in the past Olympics is behind me. I could sit and cry about it but there's nothing positive which could come from this," he said. "This is behind me, I decided this a long, long time ago. I never lost any sleep over what happened, I won an amazing medal at the Olympic Games. Maybe it could have been different but I decided to put this behind me and start going back to work and it's been an incredible motivation to go back into training and try to do this and go after Phelps one more time."
On his win he said: "It's an amazing feeling to be crowned world champion and I'm very happy and grateful but I believe that I'm overly focussed on the 100m butterfly to completely enjoy this moment. This is a great thing to be known and to be the fastest butterflyer this year. I have a very good coach (Andrea di Nino), we have a very open line of communication between all of us within the team but it's always very dangerous when you switch to a new programme before a very large competition like I did this past year with my new coach. It was a risk but the risk worked out which is a good thing. Throughout the whole season I was just listening to my body and doing what I believed to be the correct thing to do given what I knew from last year.
The Dark Ages of Melbourne 2007: The defending champion Roland Schoeman (RSA) did not make the final in Rome. His winning time from 2007, 23.18: slower than 8th in Rome.