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FINA World Championships, Swimming: Flash! Paul Biedermann Smashes World Record, Upsets Superstar Michael Phelps in 200 Free -- July 28, 2009

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ROME, Italy, July 28. IN a surprising turn of events, Germany's Paul Biedermann smashed Michael Phelps' world record in the men's 200 free with an upset over Phelps at the FINA World Championships.


Biedermann checked in with a 1:42.00 to knock nearly a second from Phelps' world record of 1:42.96 set at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Phelps could not handle Biedermann's final 50 meters as he faded to silver with a 1:43.22, which is the third-fastest time of all time.

"I actually don't think I managed it from the start," Biedermann said. "My only chance to beat Phelps was during swimming. I don't think Phelps was in his form. I hope the next time we meet he is at his best. The suits make an impact, they make you faster. I hope they get banned next year. I hope I can challenge Michael next year without the suits."

Russia's Danila Izotov finished with bronze in 1:43.90 to become the third man to ever break 1:44 in the event.

Japan's Sho Uchida (1:45.24), Australia's Kenrick Monk (1:45.46), South Africa's Jean Basson (1:45.67), The Netherlands' Sebastiaan Verschuren (1:46.05) and Russia's Nikita Lobintsev (1:46.33) completed the final heat's swims.


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July 28, 2009 Ugh. 2010 can't get here soon enough.
Submitted by: mjb
July 28, 2009 Mid-carder German guy who just broke the WR:
1:46.00 in 2008
1:48.08 in 2007 (textile)
1:48.05 in 2006 (textile)
1:48.73 in 2005 (textile)
So in the years preceding the tech suits, he was completely consistant -- a mid-carder in men's 200 Freestyle swimming--but consistant.
The year of the textile suit (2008) he dropped 2 seconds (which is consistant with many others donning the tech suits.
In 12 months....he drops 4 SECONDS!!!
Take the cheater suit off and try to do that to Phelps. And to then tell Phelps on TV that maybe he needs to train more?!?!?
This is officially Day 1 of the 200 Free being held hostage by the Great German Fraud.

Submitted by: rcoach
July 28, 2009 If the suits were handicapped as horses are in racing, then Michale swam 1:41.22 (handicapped). He should get the gold medal.
Submitted by: m.j.h
July 28, 2009 This is a sad day for swimming. That's all I can say. That man would never ever beat Phelps without the x-glide. Kudos to Phelps, he did an amazing race. He's still No 1.

Submitted by: likac05
July 28, 2009 Yes, I forgot to mention Biedermann would never break Thorpe's 400 free either without that goddamn suit. Cheater.
Submitted by: likac05
July 28, 2009 Easy with the anger...we have two allegations of Biedermann "cheating" here, and none calling Ariana Kukors a "cheater" for winning the IM, in fact quite a few applauding her performance. Unlike many other competitors, Biedermann has publicly acknowledged that the suit enhances his performance, and has welcomed the return to textile...just because he had the audacity to knock off Phelps in a perfectly legal suit shouldn't label him a "cheater".
Submitted by: FatDrew
July 28, 2009 wow rcoach. that is a little harsh. "the great german fraud". I agree the suits need to go but you have to call our American swimmers who wear Jakeds Frauds too who are dropping a lot of time.

The suits will be gone soon enough to even the playing field but speedo swimmers would be wearing jakeds and arenas too if they could.
I will be glad when the suits are gone. Biedermann realizes he has work to do without the suit. At this point in time it is what it is.
Submitted by: gtx84
July 28, 2009 Phelps could have worn the suit if he wanted to and in choosing not to, probably gave up his World title and World Record. His choice, no one elses. So stop crying about it, he lost. He also took time off, got suspended and most likely didn't train with the same intensity and desire as he did going in to Beijing, hence why he actually went slower himself.
He will get beat again next year when the suit saga is over too if he continues as is.
Submitted by: Coach D
July 28, 2009 We have to wait for 2010 to really assess all of this. If those setting records in 2009 fade back to slower times and lower finsihes, then 2009 will become regarded as an oddity - much as the tainted East german women's times of the 70's. If these swimmer can repeat, however, then they will have earned their 2009 standings.

It appears, however, that the many of the past top swimmers have suffered a fate like Tiger Woods and his golf balls - committed to a major financial sponsor, they have had to stick with inferior technology - while other new or lesser talented swimmers without the financial sponsorship strings have been able to adapt.

As one swimmer noted on another board - for the final of the 800 free relay, speedo should release Phelps from any obligation and let him lead off with a Jake - then if he goes 1:38, we'll know its all in the suits.
Submitted by: OldTimerVA
July 28, 2009 That's very noble of Paul, but the fact of the matter is that, even if the suits are outlawed next year, his record is going to stand for another 20 years.
Submitted by: m.j.h
July 28, 2009 Biederman shouldn't be called a cheater for using a suit that, at the moment, is still legal. Especially when he made a point in his post race interview to emphasize the face that he can't wait til aid suits are banned and he can prove himself. He gained a lot of respect from me in that post-race interview.
Submitted by: Sarah E
July 28, 2009 @ FatDrew
Define perfectly legal...there is no legal thing that could make you drop 4-6 sec in one year, unless you're 11.
Submitted by: likac05
July 28, 2009 Its not cheating, the new suits are legal now; the only reason Phelps and many of the stars of years past are not wearing them is that they have financial sponsorship commitments. The US team coaches should use some type coaches perogative to force all the US swimmers in the 800 Free relay to wear jakes for the final - that would excuse Phelps and others from any breach of contract and let the world see the impact of the suits.
Submitted by: OldTimerVA
July 28, 2009 rcoach
Biedermann had 1.44,89(Monte-carlo) and 1.44,73(German nationals) in a textile suit arena r-evolution
Submitted by: alexandre
July 28, 2009 Interesting point. I always try to post with a calm cool attitude regardless of my opinion.
Emotion doesn't make a good point.
But I am actually getting mad watching this meet. It's really pissing me off and I am having a hard time trying to hold off just posting pissed off ranting comments. This meet is making a mockery of everything I have been in this sport for the last 30 years.
Schubert ("wear the suit that makes you win")is on TV now saying all the new WR should have asteriks next to them. How convenient to say that even though he was part of the problem being Speedo's mouthpiece last year and now that Speedo is on the ropes with their "crappy" LZR, he wants to change things back.
BE LIKE TRACK did in the 90's. They knew about doping and just wiped the records out. Simple.
Well, the 1500 is almost over and I need to get back to the TV to watch the 4th world record in 4 events tonight.
I wouldn't bet against it.

Submitted by: rcoach
July 28, 2009 I'm no expert at US Law, but I'm sure there's a class action lawsuit in all of this somewhere. With the "dethroned" textile world-record setters as plaintiffs citing loss of income for unfair degredation of their efforts due to questionable practices on the part of FINA leadership.
Submitted by: m.j.h
July 28, 2009 I'm no expert at US Law, but I'm sure there's a class action lawsuit in all of this somewhere. With the "dethroned" textile world-record setters as plaintiffs citing loss of income for unfair degredation of their past efforts due to questionable practices on the part of FINA leadership.
Submitted by: m.j.h
July 28, 2009 I can see Speedo telling phelps to wear a jaked or arena or any suit he wants and then break the record leading off the relay....
But really the suit is giving biedermann a huge advantage, he is able to produce those incredible last 50s because of the suit and phelps is definetely not swimming his best his underwaters were considerably weaker than last year
Submitted by: carls
July 28, 2009 As usual, here's the distortion of an American bias. First the French, then the Japanese, then a Spaniard, now a German. When they win or break records it's the suits. When an American does well, the suit isn't a factor. I've noticed that many of last year's Olympians coasted through this year and act entitled to win whether they trained or not. Then they have the gall to say that the swimmers that beat them don't have talent. The clock sees it differently.
Submitted by: fluidg
July 28, 2009 Wait a minute here. The suit gives Biedermann an huge advantage? What about everyone else in the field? Why is it that the suit works better for Biedermann. Selective reasoning = nonsense. Sore losers!
Submitted by: fluidg
July 28, 2009 Wait a minute here. The suit gives Biedermann an huge advantage? What about everyone else in the field? Why is it that the suit works better for Biedermann. Selective reasoning = nonsense. Sore losers!
Submitted by: fluidg
July 28, 2009 to be fair you have to call Ariana Kukors a cheater because she dropped a huge amount of time and broke the world record in a jaked. Because she is an american and one of our own we tend to look the other way.

Soon we won't have to talk about who is wearing what. All swimmers from every country work their asses off to get better. I think it is fair to say Mike was off his game from Beijing and that is ok. It happens.
Submitted by: gtx84
July 28, 2009 Please note that I specifically said "cheater suit" if the posts are directed at my comments.
I did NOT call Biedermann himself a cheater nor would I as I have I do not believe in accusations of that sort. They do not have merit here.
The term 'cheater suit' is being used fairly commonly right now in our swimming universe dealing with what the athletes are wearing.
The other comments, harsh as they may be stand up from the proof. Freedom of speech allows me to voice my opinions (backed up by facts which I produced I might add), however harsh they may be.
But I did not call Biedermann himself a cheat (i.e. doping type cheat). And I eagerly await a rematch as he hopes for....without tech suits. But the bottom line is that this new WR without a tech suit may be around for a LONG time as someone pointed out.
He does deserve credit for publicly encouraging the suits to be gone. I give him that.

Submitted by: rcoach
July 28, 2009 MJH: Merriam-Webster dictionary describes "legal" as "conforming to or permitted by law or established rules". As applied to this scenario, Paul Biedermann wore an Arena X-Glide suit which by the established rules of FINA is permissible, therefore it is a legal suit.

I think the poly suits are horrible for the sport and wish them gone, what I have issue with is calling someone a "cheater" for wearing one. LZR suits have poly material in them as well, and were the catalyst for this current wave. I would love to see someone take a stand and wear briefs for their event.
Submitted by: FatDrew
July 28, 2009 Yeah, Biederman was respectful enough. It's true that Phelps didn't have the same training as last year; he also acknowledged the effect of the suit, and that he would like to swim Phelps in the old suits next year. I think a class action law suit is questionable; it would be difficult to prove exactly how much difference the suits made, and swimmers had choice whether or not to sign contracts, honor their contracts, etc.

Phelps went about what I thought he would go; Biederman went faster than I thought he would go; I wish I could tell how much of it was his training vs. the suit, but we'll never know who would have won had they worn the same suit. This victory and record will definitely have an asterisk next to it in my mind.
Submitted by: liquidassets
July 28, 2009 fluidg, gtx84, et. al:

I am American, and believe rcoach is 100% right. I am equally appalled by Ariana's 200IM as I am by Paul's 200 free. Why does nationality have anything to do with this? Dropping 4 seconds in a 200 in a year DOES. NOT. HAPPEN. at that level.

Regarding "the suit works better for Biedermann" - it is clearly true that the suit helps different people differently.

Regarding "Mike was off his game" - four tenths slower is off his game? He's not wearing Jaked, he's not going to be dropping seconds per meet, I thought he had a great swim.
Submitted by: Sphere
July 28, 2009 well, x-glide >>>> lzr hence the huge advantage
you don´t really think biedermann would beat him if they had been wearing the same suit, do you?
Submitted by: carls
July 28, 2009 This is no more frustrating than the suit-wars have been from the beginning, since Feb 2008. Phelp's Beijing WR was also suit aided. The fact is, though, that the in the circus that is Rome, Phelps was beaten fair and square within the current rules. Please don't forget that Phelps himself wore a suit that was 80 non-textile. On a more positive note, it was nice to see Kate Ziedler's 1500 WR from the textile days withstand the onslaught of the floatation/compression suit-wearing women.
Submitted by: ldblomgren
July 28, 2009 This is no more frustrating than the suit-wars have been from the beginning, since Feb 2008. Phelp's Beijing WR was also suit aided. The fact is, though, that the in the circus that is Rome, Phelps was beaten fair and square within the current rules. Please don't forget that Phelps himself wore a suit that was 80 non-textile. On a more positive note, it was nice to see Kate Ziedler's 1500 WR from the textile days withstand the onslaught of the floatation/compression suit-wearing women.
Submitted by: ldblomgren
July 28, 2009 Yes, but Phelps' Montreal WR was pre-LZR. 1:43.8. Biedermann's pre-LZR best was 1:48. Similarly, Kukors was what, 2:11?
Submitted by: Sphere
July 28, 2009 Biedermann had 1.44,89(Monte-carlo) and 1.44,71(German nationals) in textile suit arena R-evolution
Submitted by: alexandre
July 28, 2009 I thought that the LZR was only 50% non-textile, compared with 80% for the Jaked and other newer models?
Submitted by: liquidassets
July 28, 2009 And for those posting about American bias, head over to the Day 2 Final recap report on this site yesterday. I WAS critical of Kukors swim in the I.M. as I was critical of this swim.
I do admit that calling Biedermann a fraud is incorrect and retract that part of my post above. It was wrong to call him that (NOT backing down on the mid-carder statement though--history I provided is proof for that). These suits have definitely had a great effect for him just as they seem to have with Kukors also. That is where some of us are right now. Mad as hell and sometimes just lashing out. But the TV interview where he said maybe Phelps needs to train more (in context I know) had me seething.
But I was critical of Kukors swim and these others as well, regardless of nation. And I was again upset at the comments of both Kukors and Rice after their swims when asked about the effects of these WR's on future younger swimmers coming up. I know they are young people, but they seemed not to be too concerned, which is why some of us "older" types are getting so bent out of shape with all of this. Because we see down the road what this might do to our sport's detriment.

Submitted by: rcoach
July 28, 2009 Really, though, this is the best thing that could have happened to Phelps. He is a motivation machine, and nothing is more motivating than losing like this.
Submitted by: MJB
July 28, 2009 jaked is 100% non-textile, x-glide is 80% and lzr is less than 80%
Submitted by: carls
July 28, 2009 I'm thoroughly disgusted with FINA, USA Swimming, and the sport in general right now. They're making a laughingstock out of the sport. 2 seconds faster than Ian Thorpe? I don't think so, not from a guy who was a 1:46 until the last 15 months. No disrespect to Beidermann, actually I have HUGE respect for him and his outspoken comments about the suits. And respect for Phelps for using his LZR and not commenting.

This Worlds in a fraud plain and simple. Kukors? I mean she's a nice swimmer but 2:06, -2s on the old WR? Pellegrini's swim this evening? How many men are sub-53 in the 100m Back now? There's not THAT much talent out there. Technology always hurts the very best and helps the "better than average" and right now we are seeing "better than average" swimmers perform at an unthinkable level.

This could have been prevented when Thorpe debuted the full body suit in 2000. Restrictions should have been placed immediately. Now it's going to take 10 years to clean the mess of WR's from the books when swimming finally catches up to technology. And you'll see far fewer elite swimmers, you won't have nobodies appearing on the scenes smashing every record in sight.

Terrible. An abomination of the sport.
Submitted by: fl_coach
July 28, 2009 Amen, fl_coach.....Amen.
Submitted by: rcoach
July 28, 2009 I am totally against performance enhancing suits.
However, Biedermann competed within the rules as they currently stand and so did Phelps, one chose one piece of equipment one another. Phelps swam about as well has he has done i.e. not much change in time really, however Biedermann made a huge drop in time. Was it all due to the suit, training etc? Well we don't know and that is the problem, times can't be compared from day to day or even in the same race.
FINA and SPEEDO have created this monster between them. Speedo for creating the LZR in the first place and FINA for allowing it in the pool. FINA then allowed a free for all and plunged the sport in to an abyss.
Speedo, have over the years done a lot for swimming (with their commercial interests at heart off course). However, with the current state of swimming I believe they, FINA and Speedo, have harmed the sport of swimming in an even worse manner than the drug years of the GDR and China. Not intentionally I'm sure however, FINA having not reacted quickly enough to correct their error have let the problem become bigger and bigger.
Let's have some performance enhanced decision making from FINA!
Swimmers should not be targeted for this. FINA are the real problem, target them.


Submitted by: scotswim
July 28, 2009 i agree with you scotswim; i think fina must now have swimmers on the exective board . the swimmers must orgernize them self in a union to get their voice across to fina.
Submitted by: maly
July 28, 2009 HOLY SMOKES!!
Apparently Bowman and Phelps have told people that they will NOT RACE AGAIN until FINA fixes the suit issue in international competitions with firm rules for 'real' swim suits. He will finish Rome and then will not race again until "swimming gets back to swimming".
Anyone else hear about this? Truth?
If it is true...all I can say is BRAVO MICHAEL!!! BRAVO BOB!!!
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR TAKING A STAND WHERE SO MANY OTHERS WOULD NOT.
After so many were silent, the best in our history has decided to take up the mantle for the sport.
THIS IS LEADERSHIP FINA!! I hope you are listening hard to your best. It may turn into an avalanche of athletes before it is all over.

Please can someone say if this is true or not?
Submitted by: rcoach
July 28, 2009 its true, he won´t race in international competitions till the suits dissapear
Submitted by: carls
July 28, 2009 i found it strange that bob and mike would boycott when it was speedo who pushed for the delay of the new rule because of production concerns
Submitted by: maly
July 28, 2009 In track and field there is a "wind-assisted" world best list and an " unsual conditions" ie oversized track, list that, whilst not the official lists, appear below the "official" list. Perhaps FINA should revert to pre-2008 world records as official, and all the supersonic times on a "world best" list that follows the "official" list of best times.
Submitted by: m.j.h
July 28, 2009 rcoach.
It appears that you are right and that Michael will not swim internationally until this is all sorted out. As you say BRAVO! However, I'm sure you would also agree that this is a bit late in coming. You and I have been quite vocal and consistent on these issues over the last year, however for Bob and Michael to come out with this just after a loss also smacks of being sore losers unfortunately.

They have had a year to speak up but have left it very late in the day to open their mouths. Better late than never!

I hate to say it but on a previous reaction comment over 6 months ago I predicted this sort of eventuality and also that there would be a big outcry, and by the number of comments on this site I think I could be entitled to a "told you so."

Submitted by: scotswim
July 29, 2009 [Quote]Yes, but Phelps' Montreal WR was pre-LZR. 1:43.8. Biedermann's pre-LZR best was 1:48. Similarly, Kukors was what, 2:11?
Submitted by: Sphere [/Quote]

Actually if I understand correctly Biedermann did not use the LZR at the Olympics. He was in the slow Addias suit when he broke he did 1:46. This year he broke 1:44.71 in a non tech suit. And he also broke the short course record last Novemember in a non tech suit, so it's possible he had more in tank in Beijing. I'm told Biedermann has excellent technique and has been an underperformer previous times.

Yeah the records are ridiculous, all of them. But well its not fair to say its just the suit. If it was just Arena's than more people than just Biedermann would have beaten Phelps.
Submitted by: becca
July 29, 2009 Totally agree scotswim.
The idea is a good one.
The timing is HORRIBLE.
If MP wins the 200 Fly and breaks a WR, then that would have been a great time to do it.
But you are right, doing it before Indy would have been an even better time to do it.


Submitted by: rcoach
July 30, 2009 Just a small note in defence of Paul. I notice that he swam at Europeans and Olympics without a cap and in this race he wore one I believe.
One additional reason he would have swum a bit faster.
Submitted by: scotswim
July 30, 2009 Interesting point you have scot...
One topic of conversation in the last month I have heard is not only of the suits aiding bouyancy but also of the usage of multiple swim caps, specifically having the newer thicker silicone caps (or two) on top to aid in head bouyancy to aid in body position in the last 15-20 meters of races. Some of these caps are now much thicker than they were even 12-24 months ago also.
The discussion was that while the suits are the primary issue, there seems to be some definite help coming from people going in multiple caps and if this should also be addressed since loss of head position due to neck fatigue could render body position significantly reduced regardless of core aiding from the suits. The bouyancy of the cap(s) helps offset this.
Such a small item that may have been overlooked.
Submitted by: rcoach
July 30, 2009 I can remember folks wearing two caps as early as Trials in Long Beach in '04, with those odd-looking caps, though it may have started even before that. I never really thought much about it. But if the caps are much thicker now as you say, someone should do a study to see how much they help. Hopefully the effect is not much, otherwise we'll have yet another controversy on our hands.
Submitted by: liquidassets
July 30, 2009 Yes, it was a pretty interesting conversation to listen in on.
One of the parts of it being discussed I had never really thought about before, but it seems to make a little sense is the level of neck muscle fatigue from normal head position can actually amplify somewhat to the rest of the body due to the nervous system which we all know runs from the brain all the way down.
If the neck fatigues and the muscles tighten up, and make the head fall out of position this then affects the nerves, which as we all know if you just blow lightly on your hand, are pretty darn sensitive.
The thought process was that if the nerves are being stressed in the neck, then the possibility of the whole nervous system being adversely affected, thereby affecting performance to other systems in the body as the "alarm bell" goes off by the nervous system. And since they are so sensitive, even less dramatic drops in position from say a core muscle/body alignment drop mid-torso could have a greater percentage of performance affectation.
So a multiple cap situation which keeps the head more bouyant and the neck muscles less fatigued for much longer, could have a great affect on performance.
I am no scientist, so I am not saying this is a scientific fact, and in fact would love to hear from some people about the possibilities of how true this could be.
But it kind of makes sense to me.
Kind of interested to hear if this has been addressed by anyone. I know the cap thickness relatively speaking has not been super dramatic in it's increase in thickness, but even just a little bit more really could do it.
Part of the conversation was about some elite swimmers are wearing defintely 2 and even 3 caps because they have figured this out.....sort of like double suiting this past year. 1 latex to keep the caps on and then 2 silicone for flotation.
Interesting stuff. I think I am going to keep an eye out for this when watching the swimming the next few days and see what I can see.

Submitted by: rcoach
July 30, 2009 Yes, it was a pretty interesting conversation to listen in on.
One of the parts of it being discussed I had never really thought about before, but it seems to make a little sense is the level of neck muscle fatigue from normal head position can actually amplify somewhat to the rest of the body due to the nervous system which we all know runs from the brain all the way down.
If the neck fatigues and the muscles tighten up, and make the head fall out of position this then affects the nerves, which as we all know if you just blow lightly on your hand, are pretty darn sensitive.
The thought process was that if the nerves are being stressed in the neck, then the possibility of the whole nervous system being adversely affected, thereby affecting performance to other systems in the body as the "alarm bell" goes off by the nervous system. And since they are so sensitive, even less dramatic drops in position from say a core muscle/body alignment drop mid-torso could have a greater percentage of performance affectation.
So a multiple cap situation which keeps the head more bouyant and the neck muscles less fatigued for much longer, could have a great affect on performance.
I am no scientist, so I am not saying this is a scientific fact, and in fact would love to hear from some people about the possibilities of how true this could be.
But it kind of makes sense to me.
Kind of interested to hear if this has been addressed by anyone. I know the cap thickness relatively speaking has not been super dramatic in it's increase in thickness, but even just a little bit more really could do it.
Part of the conversation was about some elite swimmers are wearing defintely 2 and even 3 caps because they have figured this out.....sort of like double suiting this past year. 1 latex to keep the caps on and then 2 silicone for flotation.
Interesting stuff. I think I am going to keep an eye out for this when watching the swimming the next few days and see what I can see.

Submitted by: rcoach
July 30, 2009 Without the super suit, I don't see this record falling anytime soon.
Submitted by: Philipmj24
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