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BARCELONA, Spain, August 4. IT’s been an amazing week for women’s breaststroke as all three world records were rewritten. This evening, the swimmers focused more on the race and not the time, as Russia’s Yuliya Efimova clipped Lithuania’s Ruta Meilutyte for the women’s 50-meter breaststroke title at the FINA World Championships.
With Meilutyte crashing the world record in semis with a 29.48, Efimova knew she had her work cut out for her in the finale. But, she had just enough in the tank to capture a .07-second victory ahead of Meilutyte with a 29.52 to 29.59 triumph. Those are the second and third fastest times ever in the sprint backstroke behind Meilutyte’s world record swim.
The win returned the title to Efimova for the first time since she topped the sprint breaststroke in 2009, and along with her 200 breast victory from earlier in the week, now puts the Trojan Swim Club Russian at three career world titles. Overall, Efimova now has seven career world medals. Three golds with wins in the 50 breast (2009, 2013), 200 breast (2013) as well as four silvers in the 100 breast (2009, 2013), 50 breast (2011) and 200 breast (2011).
Meilutyte, still just a teenager having broken onto the scene last summer with a stunning 100-meter breaststroke victory at the 2012 London Olympics, is up to two career world medals now. She won the 100 breast earlier this week, and now has a 50-meter breaststroke silver medal to add to her collection.
Former world-record holder Jessica Hardy of the U.S. took bronze with a 29.80. That time matched her American record that had stood as the world record since 2009. That’s medal number nine in her career with two golds, five silvers and two bronzes (both from this week).
USA’s Breeja Larson joined the exclusive sub-30 club with a fourth-place time of 29.95 as the top four in this event comprise that club.
Sweden’s Jennie Johansson (30.23), Denmark’s Rikke Moller Pedersen (30.72) and The Netherlands’ Moniek Nijhuis (31.31) finished fifth through seventh in the finale, while Czech’s Petra Chocova drew a disqualification.