For full Swimming World coverage of the entire 2011 FINA World Championships, including all videos and recaps, visit our Event Landing Page.
SHANGHAI, China, July 31. JESSICA Hardy kicked off the final session of the FINA World Long Course Championships in impressive fashion with a dominant win in the women's 50 breast.
Hardy clocked a time of 30.19 to reclaim the world title in the event. She previously won the event in 2007, and this year beat out defending world champion and now training partner Yuliya Efimova for the gold. The win is Hardy's third medal in the last four world championships in the event. She also took silver in 2005. Hardy also joined China's Luo Xuejuan as the only two-time winner of the event. Luo topped the first two offerings of the sprint breast with wins in 2001 and 2003 after FINA began offering the event in 2001.
"I am really excited about the win," Hardy said. "I am always training for that event. It's a huge opportunity to be able to swim it. I think all of us swam really well, and I'm now focusing on London."
The win was the beginning of a sprint double this evening, as Hardy still has the 50 free on her docket. The double proved to be difficult for Hardy as she wound up eighth in the 50 free later in the evening.
Efimova checked in with a silver-winning time of 30.49, while USA's Rebecca Soni gave Dave Salo and the Trojan Swim Club in California a podium sweep with a third-place 30.58. The sprint breast is the only weak part of Soni's arsenal, as she is the undisputed queen of the 100 and 200 breaststroke events. In 2009, Soni had finished runner-up to Efimova, while Australia's Sarah Katsoulis took third that year.
"I would have liked to win gold in the race," Efimova said. "But the 50 isn't an Olympic distance. I will be preparing for the 100 and 200 heading into the London Olympics."
Australia's Leiston Pickett (30.74), Sweden's Jennie Johansson (30.89), Australia's Leisel Jones (31.01), The Netherlands' Moniek Nijhuis (31.33) and Sweden's Rebecca Ejdervik (31.45) also swam in the finale.