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LONDON, England, July 28. SOUTH Africa's Cameron van der Burgh broke 59 seconds for the second time in his career, and the first in textile, during the men's 100-meter breaststroke semis at the 2012 London Olympics.
Van der Burgh smoked a time of 58.83 during the first semifinal, moving up to fifth all time in the event's history. His previous best had been a 58.95 from the 2009 Rome World Championships during the techsuit era. The swim eclipsed Kosuke Kitajima's Olympic record of 58.91 from the 2008 Beijing Games. He nearly eclipsed the textile best of 58.71 set by Alexander Dale Oen at last year's World Championships. Dale Oen's spirit is definitely hanging over this event this year, after he suffered a tragic death earlier this year while training in Flagstaff.
“It was a great honor [to break the Olympic record],” van der Burgh said. “I was struggling this morning and saying to my coach I was feeling a bit tired, but he said that sometimes happens. Then I go and break the Olympic record. It's surreal. This was a real confidence booster but I still need to focus on the next race. It's nice to come back and get some ice and get ready for the final tomorrow (Sunday).”
Italy's Fabio Scozzoli raced to second in 59.44, just off his personal best of 58.42 from 2011 Worlds, while world-record holder Brenton Rickard of Australia (58.58) qualified third in 59.50. His teammate Christian Sprenger earned fourth in 59.61 out of the second semifinal, while Lithuania's Giedrius Titenis finished fifth in 59.66.
Two-time defending champion Kosuke Kitajima cruised into finals with a sixth-seeded 59.69. With Michael Phelps missing the podium in the men's 400 IM, Kitajima now has the chance to become the first man ever to threepeat an Olympic swimming event.
Hungary's Daniel Gyurta (59.74) and USA's Brendan Hansen (59.78) snared the other two transfer spots into the finale. Hansen is looking to return to his 2004 form, when he took silver behind Kitajima in Athens.
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