Few events demonstrate the farcical nature of events at the balloon-suit shampionships in Rome that the breaststroke races.
Take the 200m heats among women, where Annamay Pierse (CAN) qualified for semis in a time 0.04sec faster than Leisel Jones (AUS) won the title in 2007. The Canadian's 2:21.68 inaugural sliding and gliding shampionship record came in just ahead of Olympic champion Rebecca Soni, on 2:22.09, and Mirna Jukic (AUT), on 2:22.10, a European record. Soni holds the world record at 2:20.22.
All three of those hard-working athletes will be forces to reckon when swimming is revived in 2010. Right now, many find it best to turn a blind eye to the clock when assessing events here in Rome. Understandable. But, for the record, we will state the facts.
Big gap to the pack beyond the leaders - as it was between Leisel and the languishers back in 2007 - but not nearly as big as it was in 2007: eight women raced inside 2:24 and 19 inside 2:27. In Melbourne heats, no-one broke 2:27.
The silver medal was shared in Melbourne by Kirsty Balfour (GBR) and Megan Jendrick (USA), on 2:25.94. That time would have placed them 14th in the Rome heats this morning at the surfing and gliding championships. The 2:27.03 in which Suzaan Van Biljon (RSA) went through at the helm in Melbourne 2007: 20th in Rome.