World Short Course Championships: Flash! Duje Draganja Defends 50 Free Title With World Record

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MANCHESTER, England, April 11. CROATIA's Duje Draganja clocked a world record in the men's 50 free to defend his 2006 world title at the FINA World Short Course Championships.

Draganja, the winner in 2006 with a 21.38, destroyed the field with a world-record time of 20.81 from out in lane one. Sweden's Stefan Nystrand held the previous record with a 20.93 from the Berlin World Cup stop last year.

Incidentally, Draganja broke the meet record of Cullen Jones, who set the mark at 21.31 representing the U.S. in 2006. Draganja also dropped his national record of 21.23 set last December.

"This was an advantage to swim (on the) outside (lane). Coming back the wave was not as harsh as in the middle," Draganja told meet organizers. "World records come and go. What matters is that I am the world record holder now. I will celebrate tonight because tomorrow I might not have the record. I did my fair share of practising turns. I had it pretty good tonight. I got to the pool three hours early and practised in my warm-up, but I got it so that's all that matters. Train as an animal, man. There's no time to rest. I'll go back to Florida and get as many races as possible."

Great Britain's Mark Foster claimed his 13th career world short course medal with a second-place 21.31, while South Africa's Gerhard Zandberg finished third in 21.33.

This was Foster's seventh medal in the event, including four golds in 1993, 1999, 2000 and 2004. He also took second in 1997 and 2002. He finished behind Francisco Sanchez of Venezuela in 1997 and Jose Meolans of Argentina in 2002. Meolons, incidentally, finished fifth today in 21.48.

Ryan Lochte of the U.S., who has been swimming a pretty rough schedule, finished fourth in 21.44. He will remain at 11 career world short course medals at this point.

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