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SHANGHAI, China, July 26. THE women's 1500 free crown for 2011 now rests upon the head of Denmark's Lotte Friis after her definitive victory at the FINA World Long Course Championships.
Friis, who took silver in 2009, upgraded that hardware to gold with a 15:49.59 – the fourth-fastest of all time. Only Kate Ziegler (15:42.54), Alessia Filippi (15:44.93) and Friis (15:46.30) have had faster times. The win is Friis' second world title, going with her 800 free triumph from 2009.
"It's always nice to win a gold medal," Friis said. "It's my personal best [in a textile suit]. I will focus on the 800m next year in London. Kate ([iegler] is an amazing swimmer, there is always good spirit between us."
Ziegler, meanwhile, continued her resurgence with a silver-winning time of 15:55.60. Ziegler had been the two-time reigning world champion in the event heading into 2009 when Filippi picked up the win. China's Li Xuanxu rounded out the podium with a bronze-winning 15:58.02.
"Honestly, I'm both happy and a little disappointed," Ziegler said. "I think everyone swam well. That was a little bit disappointing but it's my first mile back since 2007. I'm pleased with the result but I know there are lots of space to improve. And I'm focusing on the next year, so (the World Championships) is not my focus. It turns out that my endurance is back. Last summer, I swam a mile and would kind of die. Now, I feel strong and pretty good. And, I'm still working on the speed, and obviously I can struggle on it. This summer I have swum well and it's really fun. I really appreciate so much."
Chile's Kristel Kobrich (16:05.11), Australia's Melissa Gorman (16:05.98), South Africa's Wendy Trott (16:06.02), Spain's Erika Villaecija Garcia (16:09.71) and China's Yiwen Shao (16:12.01) also vied for the championship title.
Tonight's women's 1500 free demonstrated just how special Kate Ziegler's world record is, as one of the very few that stood through the techsuit era. Ziegler, swimming at the Swim Meet of Champions in Mission Viejo without a care in the world at the time, dropped a remarkable time of 15:42.54 in 2007.
Even more remarkable is what has changed in four years since the record, as evidenced by the fact that Ziegler's world record nearly would never have been seen except by the spectators in the stands.
With all the live Internet streaming available today, it is hard to remember a time like Ziegler's record when the local television station decided not to use its broadcast rights. If not for amateur videographer Lauren Nave picking up her camera and filming from the side of the deck, video of the swim would never have been available.