By Phillip Whitten
MOSCOW, June 29. RUSSIA'S Roman Sludnov broke the world record in the men's 100 meter breaststroke today, becoming the first swimmer to dip under the "magic" one minute barrier.
When the 21 year-old Sludnov, a university student from Omsk, hit the pads at 59.97 seconds in the final of the 100m breaststroke at the Russian National Championships and World Championship Trials, the crowd erupted in thunderous applause. Sludnov's time erased the world mark of 1:00.26 he had set yesterday in the semifinals. That swim had broken American Ed Moses' record of 1:00.29 set at the US Nationals in Austin on March 28.
After the race, Sludnov told journalist Gennady Fyodorov he felt like the first man in space. "I don't know if you can compare my achievement to what Yuri Gagarin had done, but I do feel like the first man in space," said the Russian, referring to his compatriot, who 40 years ago became the first human being in space.
"It hasn't hit me yet, maybe in a couple of hours or a couple of days I will understand what I have done," he told Fyodorov after his record-breaking swim. But only a few minutes later, he was better able to articulate what he had accomplished. In an interview with Fyodorov, he said: "This can be like breaking a 10-second barrier in the 100 metres dash or leaping nine metres in the long jump. It's history."
"I've dreamed about it for a long time. I wanted to break one minute in Sydney (at the 2000 Olympics) but it wasn't meant to be. But this is a big compensation for not winning the Olympic gold."
His coach, Natalya Roshchina, who is also his mother, said her son did everything right today. "It was a perfect swim," she said.
Sludnov split 28.37 at the 50, "a big improvement" from yesterday (when he was out in 28.51), but slower than the 28.23 he split a year ago when he set the world record at 1:00.36.
"I looked at the scoreboard at the halfway mark and saw my time was 14 hundredths of a second faster than yesterday in the first 50," said Sludnov. "At that time I knew I had a chance to break one minute."
Sludnov has now lowered the world record in the 100 meter breaststroke three times in just over one year.
Sludnov said being the first man under a minute gave him a big advantage going into the World Championships. "I don't know how Moses and all others feel right now but I wouldn't want to be in their place," he said. "I'd be devastated to find out someone else broke the record."
Roshchina complained her son has been unable to find a single sponsor despite his accomplishments. "Roman won an Olympic bronze medal, two world titles, set five world (short and long-course) records but we don't have a single sponsor and we had almost no support at home," she said.
"Until recently he was living on his Olympic stipend which was about to dry up. I'm his coach and also train two full groups of swimmers in our city and I get paid $150 a month. I hope sports officials in our country will finally pay some attention to our needs."
World Record Progression: Men's 100m Breaststroke, 1972-2001
1:05.68 John Hencken (USA) Aug. 28, 1972
1:05.13 Nobutaka Taguchi (JPN) Aug. 29, 1972
1:04.94 Nobutaka Taguchi (JPN) Aug. 30, 1972
1:04.35 John Hencken (USA) Apr. 09, 1973
1:04.02 John Hencken (USA) Apr. 09, 1973
1:03.88 John Hencken (USA) Aug. 31, 1974
1:03.62 John Hencken (USA) July 19, 1976
1:03.11 John Hencken (USA) July 20, 1976
1:02.86 Gerald Moerken (WGR) Aug. 17, 1977
1:02.62 Steve Lundquist (USA) July 19, 1982
1:02.53 Steve Lundquist (USA) Aug. 21, 1982
1:02.34 Steve Lundquist (USA) Aug. 06, 1983
1:02.28 Steve Lundquist (USA) Aug. 17, 1983
1:02.13 John Moffet (USA) June 25, 1984
1:01.65 Steve Lundquist (USA) July 29, 1984
1:01.49 Adrian Moorhouse (GBR) Aug. 15, 1989
1:01.49 Adrian Moorhouse (GBR) Jan. 25, 1990
1:01.49 Adrian Moorhouse (GBR) July 26, 1990
1:01.49 Norbert Rozsa (HUN) Jan. 07, 1991
1:01.45 Norbert Rozsa (HUN) Jan. 07, 1991
1:01.45 Vasily Ivanov (URS) June 11, 1991
1:01.29 Norbert Rozsa (HUN) Aug. 20, 1991
1:00.95 Karoly Guttler (HUN) Aug. 03, 1993
1:00.60 Frederik Deburghgraeve (BEL) July 20, 1996
1:00.36 Roman Sludnov (RUS) June 15, 2000
1:00.29 Ed Moses (USA) Mar. 28, 2001
1:00.26 Roman Sludnov (RUS) June 28, 2001
0:59.97 Roman Sludnov (RUS) June 29, 2001