Rome 2009, Day 4
Federica Pellegrini (ITA) set the 20th world record of the championships with a 1:52.88 blast to win the 200m freestyle crown. That was followed up with the 21st world record of the championships, as Cameron van der Burgh (RSA) won the 50m breaststroke crownin 26.67.
The record tally for world records at world championships had stood at 16, since Belgrade 1973, when the GDR wundermadchen declared pharmacological warfare. The all-time Olympic record for world records at one meet belongs to Montreal 1976, at 29. Not long now before Rome cracks that one too.
Women's 200m free final
The silver and bronze went to Americans Allison Schmitt and Dana Vollmer in 1:54.96 and 1:55.64. Schmitt's is the second-best time ever and third sub 1:55 swim (Pellegrini's gain on the rest of the world in that list is extraordinary, suit or no suit) and 1:55.64, the latter a 3.3sec gain on the year.
The new all-time top 10, with three new entries
The top 10 range coming out of Melbourne: 1:55.52 - 1:57.25. What was No10 all-time two years ago would now be good enough for 30th. Franziska Van Almsick, the German who held the world record between Rome 1994 and 2007, when the mark stood at 1:56.64, was on hand as a TV show host to witness Pellegrini's progresson. Van Almsick's time went into Melbourne at the top, came out 5th best ever and is now 19th best.
Here is Pellegrini's Year-By-Year Progression:
Pellegrini's was a commanding victory. After tearing a further 0.69sec off her bosysuited best from semis, she said: "after the semi-finals I was very self-aware that I could break the record: that I could really win, but today I was also really tired. From the point of view of my current form, my strength, I didn't really believe I could break this record, so it’s amazing."
She said that the crowd and the support of a nation had been important to her victory "because I have to compete with both my mind and hear". And a suit, of course. A suit that accounts for a 1:52.98. For if it is not the suit, swimming would really not wish to contemplate other explanations.
Men's 50m Breaststroke final:
In Van der Burgh's wake came Felipe Silva (BRA), in 26.76, and Mark Gangloff (USA), on 26.86. The first five home swam inside 27sec. The race made seven changes to the all-time top 10, while the list of the all-time top 50 men (1 entry per human) now includes 38 times set in 2009.
Oleg Lisgor (UKR) held the world record at 27.18 before and after Melbourne 2007. It was a super-fast time, ahead of the then 2nd best, Ed Moses, by 0.21sec. Let's see now, where does Rome fit. Ah, yes, what you'd expect: Lisogor's lash has now been surpassed 20 times by 9 men and Moses 68 times by 23 men. Van der Burgh is the real proven deal and will be among those who emerges from the sad suits saga as a fighting force yet. It will be fascinating to see how the list below changes by the time the global pool meets for the long-course battle again in Shanghai 2011.
Meanwhile, this - in italic - is the stunning impact of Rome 2009 on the all-time top 10 (with best time from previous season):