By Phillip Whitten
PARIS, January 28. TWO stunning world record swims highlighted the final night of competition on the 2000-2001 FINA World Cup tour. The ten-venue tour ended this evening in Paris in spectacular fashion.
Great Britain's Mark Foster laid claim to the title of the world's fastest short course swimmer when he broke the world record in the 50 meter freestyle. It was the 30 year-old sprinter's second world mark in 11 days.
On January 17, Foster reclaimed the 50 meter butterfly short course record in Sheffield with a 22.87 second swim. Tonight he regained possession of the 50 meter freestyle short course standard with a time of 21.13 seconds, breaking American Anthony Ervin's record of 21.21 seconds set at the NCAA Championships last March 23.
Ervin went on to share the Olympic gold medal with USA and Phoenix Swim Club teammate, Gary Hall, Jr. Foster finished a disappointing seventh in Sydney.
Foster has set seven short course world records but this was his first outside of Great Britain, where he has broken the 50 freestyle and 50 butterfly marks three times apiece. He previously broke the 50 freestyle record in February 1993 and, twice in December 1998.
In the very next event, China's Qi Hui, 16, slashed nearly a full second from the women's 200 meter breaststroke world short course record, becoming the first woman ever to swim the event under 2:20. She was nearly seven seconds ahead of her nearest pursuer, South Africa's Sarah Poewe.
Qi's time of 2:19.25 erased Japan's Masami Tanaka's mark of 2:20.22 set at the Short Course World Championships in Hong Kong ion April 2, 1999. It was the first world record in more than three years for a Chinese swimmer.
"That was an excellent race," said Qi. "I had good feelings and despite being tired I managed to hold out in the last 25 meters."
In other highlights in Paris, the USA's B.J. Bedford won two events, giving her three for the the two-day World Cup finale. The Olympic gold medalist cruised to a win in the 100m back in 59.35, then battled Japan's Tomoko Hagiwara to the wire in the 100m I.M. before out-touching her rival, 1:01.32 to 1:01.37.
Sweden's Johanna Sjoberg also notchd two wins to give her three victories in all in Paris. The Swedish sprinter took the 100 free in 54.11 and the 50 fly in 26.54.
Costa Rica's Claudia Poll celebrated her return to the World Cup by winning the 400 free in 4:08.23, exactly one second faster than France's Alicia Bozon.
On the men's side, Australia's Michael Klim had no trouble in powering to victory in the 100m fly. His 51.08 was nearly a second faster than teammate Adam Pine's 52.04. Klim won the 100 free and 50 fly yesterday.
Another Aussie, Todd Pearson, staved off a challenge from America's Chad Carvin to win the 200m free in 1:44.98. Carvin touched in 1:45.60.
Canada's Morgan Knabe capped a successful World Cup tour by breaking his own Canadian record while winning the 100m breast in 59.60.
The men's 1500m free saw a one-two French finish as Nicholas Rostoucher won easily in an outstnding 14:46.16, while teammate Guy-Noel Schmitt out-reached Ukraine's Igor Chervynskiy, 14:56.27 to 14:56.33.