European Championships: Flash! Alain Bernard Becomes Fastest Swimmer on the Planet, Breaks 50 Free World Record

EINDHOVEN, Netherlands, March 23. HAVING already put Pieter van den Hoogenband's 100 free world record into the annals of swimming history, France's Alain Bernard captured the 50 free global standard at the European Championships during semifinals.

Bernard scorched the pool to the tune of a 21.50 to take down Eamon Sullivan's month-and-a-half old record of 21.56 set on Feb. 17. Bernard will have the chance to lower the mark even further during finals tomorrow.

Bernard becomes the first Frenchman to hold the record in the event, and returned it to the European continent, where it has resided since Alexander Popov set his old record of 21.64 in Moscow on June 1, 2000.

World Record Progressions
Courtesy of USA Swimming
23.70 Klaus Steinback FRG Freiburg 7/23/1979
23.66 Chris Cavanaugh USA Amersfoort 2/2/1980
22.83p Bruce Stahl USA Austin 4/10/1980
22.83p Joe Bottom USA Honolulu 8/15/1980
22.71 Joe Bottom USA Honolulu 8/15/1980
22.54p Robin Leamy USA Brown Deer 8/15/1981
22.52 Dano Halsall SUI Bellinzona 7/21/1985
22.40 Tom Jager USA Austin 12/6/1985
22.33 Matt Biondi USA Orlando 6/26/1986
22.33 Matt Biondi USA Clovis 7/30/1987
22.32* Tom Jager USA Brisbane 8/13/1987
22.23 Tom Jager USA Orlando 3/25/1988
22.14 Matt Biondi USA Seoul 9/24/1988
22.12 Tom Jager USA Tokyo 8/20/1989
21.98p Tom Jager USA Nashville 3/24/1990
21.81 Tom Jager USA Nashville 3/24/1990
21.64 Alexander Popov RUS Moscow 6/1/2000
21.56 Eamon Sullivan AUS Sopac 2/17/2008
21.50sf Alain Bernard FRA Eindhoven 3/23/2008

In other action, Switzerland's Flavia Rigamonti destroyed the meet-record in the women's 1500 free with a time of 15:58.54 and nearly cleared her European record of 15:55.38 in the process.

Germany followed with a 1-2 in the women's 50 breast semifinal round as Janne Schaefer (31.23) and Kerstin Vogel (31.58) earned the top two seeds in the event.

In an event missing Milorad Cavic due to his suspension earlier in the meet for wearing a T-shirt stating "Kosovo is Serbia" on the medal stand, Russia's Evgeny Korotyshkin took advantage of the absence with a meet-record time of 51.89 for the victory. He tied Ukraine's Andriy Serdinov's 2006 effort. Slovenia's Peter Mankoc finished second in 52.07, while Spain's Rafael Munoz Perez took third in 52.09.

In the women's 200 free, Slovenia's Sara Isakovic touched out Romania's Camelia Potec, 1:57.45 to 1:57.47, for the title, while Hungary's Agnes Mutina finished third in 1:58.06.

Russia's Anastasia Zueva dropped Nina Zhivanevskaya's day-old European record, and nearly joined the newly-burgeoning 27-club in the women's 50 back when she hit the pad in 28.05 for the win. Zhivanevskaya placed second in 28.11, under her old continental standard of 28.13 from yesterday. Croatia's Sanja Jovanovic took third in 28.17.

Austria's Markus Rogan dominated the men's 200 back with a time of 1:55.85, while Russia's Arkady Vyatchanin finished second in 1:57.04. Romania's Razvan Florea claimed third in 1:57.53.

France's Aurore Mongel paced semifinal qualifying in the women's 200 fly with a time of 2:07.73, while Hungary's Emese Kovacs (2:08.30) and Spain's Mireia Belmonte Garcia (2:09.79) touched in second and third.

World-record holder Oleg Lisogor of Ukraine touched out a game Alexander Dale Oen of Norway, 27.43 to 27.53, in the men's 50 breast, while Italy's Alessandro Terrin placed third in 27.64.

Netherlands' Marleen Veldhuis gave a run at a possible 50 free world-record sweep at the meet, but came up short with a meet-record time of 24.26 in the women's 50 free semifinal round. Compatriot Inge Bruijn remained the fastest female swimmer ever with a 28.13 from 2000. Another countrywoman, Hinkelien Schreuder, qualified second in 24.86.

Italy's team of Emiliano Brembilla, Massi Rosolino, Nicola Cassio and Filippo Magnini walked away with the men's 800 free relay title in 7:09.94.

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