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Kovacs, De Bruijn Shine at Monte Carlo -- May 21, 2000

MONTE CARLO, May 21. HUNGARY'S Agnes Kovacs took the 50 and 200 breaststroke today, setting a European record in the 50, to complete her sweep of the breaststroke events at Monte Carlo, the first stop on the Mare Nostrum circuit.

In head-to-head competition with South Africa's Sarah Poewe, Kovacs clocked 31.34 seconds, breaking Britain's Zoe Baker's record of 31.43 set last year. Poewe swam a strong 31.62 in finishing second.

Kovacs also swam away with the 200 clocking 2:24.94, just four-hundredths shy of her own European record set in Seville in 1997. Only two women have ever swum faster--South Africa's Penny Heyns, who set the world record of 2:23.64 last year, and Japan's Masami Tanaka, who recorded the world's fastest time of 2000, 2:24.12, at the Japanese Olympic Trials.

Yesterday, Kovacs clocked a national record 1:07.92 for the 100m breast, just one-hundredth slower than Silke Hoerner's drug-tainted European record.

Meanwhile Holland's Inky De Bruijn continued her torrid pace. De Bruijn set a Dutch national mark in winning the 100 today in 54.59, just missing Franzi van Almsick's European mark of 54.57 set seven years ago. De Bruijn's time is the fastest in the world this year.

The blond Dutch woman also won a head-to-head battle in the 50m butterfly, clocking 26.28. Only the world record she set yesterday--25.83--is faster. De Bruijn also swam a European record 57.96 yesterday for the 100m fly--the third fastest time in history and just eight hundredths slower than Jenny Thompson's world record.

As it was yesterday, the men's competition was less spectacular than the women's but still fast. Hungary's Attila Zubor completed his 100/200 meter freestyle sweep by taking the double century in 1:49.83.

Russia's Alex Popov showed he still can sprint when he needs to, winning the head-to-head competition in the 50m free in 22.23, ahead of South Africa's Nick Folker at 22.65