Christian Sprenger Reverses Olympic Finish, Downs Cameron van der Burgh

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BARCELONA, Spain, July 29. AUSTRALIA’s Christian Sprenger reversed the finish of the Olympics in 2012 by capturing the men’s 100-meter breaststroke ahead of Olympic gold medalist Cameron van der Burgh to start the FINA World Championships tonight.

With van der Burgh out under world-record pace, Sprenger powered home with a 58.79 to close out the world title in the event. Van der Burgh, who admitted to cheating with illegal dolphins kicks as part of his 100 breast victory last summer, wound up with silver tonight in 58.97. Brazil’s Felipe Lima finished third in 59.65.

Van der Burgh, with his 26.83 going out, set the textile best in the 50, undercutting the 26.87 clocked by Lima.

Sprenger joins Brenton Rickard (2009) as the only Australians to win this particular world title, as the Aussies have now won two of the last three crowns in the men’s 100-meter breaststroke. The swim is a lifetime best for Sprenger, moving him to fifth all time in the event. Van der Burgh, meanwhile, earned his fourth 58-second performance with his swim tonight.

Both Sprenger and van der Burgh, however, were seen to have used illegal dolphin kicks during the finale of the 100 breast at the 2012 London Games, and their swims are always now called into question in a similar fashion as to when Kosuke Kitajima was seen to have used an illegal dolphin kick for his Olympic wins.

Slovenia’s Damir Dugonjic (59.68), Italy’s Fabio Scozzoli (59.70), Japan’s Kosuke Kitajima (59.98), USA’s Kevin Cordes (1:00.02) and USA’s Nic Fink (1:00.10) rounded out the rest of the championship heat.

The tragedy of the men’s breaststroke issues right now with FINA not stepping in with underwater cameras to police the stroke, is that this is now the top issue every time the likes of van der Burgh takes to the water.

Without illegal dolphin kicks taking over the breaststroke discussion, the top backstory would have been the story of Alexander Dale Oen, who won in 2011 after a madman massacred countless people in his home country of Norway that summer. Dale Oen later untimely passed away during an altitude training camp in Flagstaff, Ariz., but his story continues to be overshadowed by the focus on cheating in the breaststroke.