By Craig Lord and Claudia Weidlich
SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND, May 27. In perhaps one of the most phenomenal and astonishing performances in the history of swimming, Holland's Inge ("Inky") de Bruijn recorded an out-of-this-world time of 56.69 seconds for the 100 meter butterfly at the Speedo Grand Prix meet at Ponds Forge in Sheffield, England.
The time erased American Jenny Thompson's world record of 57.88 set last summer at the Pan Pacific Championships in Sydney. Thompson's time better Mary T. Meagher's 57.93 that had held up for 18 years.
As the crowd gaped in awe, De Bruijn flew through the 50 meter mark in 26.47–a time only one other woman in the world has ever bettered for a straight 50–then powered home in 30.22.
Beyond Thompson and Mary T Meagher, who had held the record at 57.93 since 1981 before Thompson, the next best in the world is a 58.04, held by Australia's Petria Thomas. De Bruijn, a 26-year-old who swims for Eindhoven but trains in the US, was barely out of breath when she stopped the clock. Just two years ago, de Bruijn's best was a 59.28sec, her progress since truly staggering.
On Friday, she broke the world record over 50m butterfly and equalled the 1994 standard of China's Le Jingyi over 50m freestyle, in 24.51sec. When Le set that mark, there was silence as a disbelieving audience took in the news of such an astonishing time.
Far behind De Bruijn yesterday was Newcastle's Sue Rolph, second at 1:00.40, a British record that was made to look like the effort of a junior swimmer.
Another British record to fall was the 50m freestyle, courtesy of Mark Foster, of Bath University, his 22.29sec 0.13sec inside the standard he set eight years ago. The effort lifted the world short-course champion to fourth in the world in a long-course, Olympic pool.
James Hickman suffered his second setback of the years at the hands domestic rival Stephen Parry.