Sullivan bests Bernard's world mark in second men's semifinal

Updated: August 13, 2008, 10:39 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

BEIJING -- Eamon Sullivan of Australia took back the world record in the 100-meter freestyle semifinals at the Beijing Olympics, about two minutes after Frenchman Alain Bernard lowered it.

Sullivan won his heat Wednesday morning in 47.05 seconds, topping Bernard's time of 47.20 set in the first semifinal.

They both went under the mark of 47.24 set by Sullivan during the leadoff leg of the 400 free relay on Monday.

It's the fifth time this year that Sullivan and Bernard have traded the record.

"Records don't mean much," Sullivan said. "They don't win medals at the end of the day, unfortunately. But it gives me confidence that I can swim my own race under pressure."

American Jason Lezak, who chased down Bernard in the relay, advanced to the final with the sixth-best time, 47.98. The other U.S. swimmer, Garrett Weber-Gale, failed to advance.

An inspiring Olympic story came to an end in the semifinals of the 200 breaststroke.

Eric Shanteau, who was diagnosed with testicular cancer just before the U.S. Olympic trials and put off surgery until after the games, failed to advance to the final.

He finished sixth in his semifinal heat and 10th overall, 13-hundredths of a second out of the last spot into the final.

Japan's Kosuke Kitajima, trying for his second straight sweep of the breaststroke events, cruised along as the top qualifier at 2:08.61. He already won the 100 with a world record after taking both golds in Athens four years ago.

Later on Wednesday, Ryan Lochte and Aaron Peirsol set up a rematch in the Olympic 200-meter backstroke, with the Americans qualifying 1-2 for the event in which they share the world record. Michael Phelps qualified sixth.

Lochte's time of 1 minute, 56.29 seconds was just 0.06 seconds ahead of Peirsol, who clocked 1:56.35 in the prior preliminary heat.

Markus Rogan of Austria, the silver medalist behind Peirsol four years ago in Athens, was third-quickest in 1:56.64.

Lochte ended Peirsol's seven-year winning streak in the 200 back at last year's world championships in Australia, where he also took away Peirsol's world record. Rogan was third.

The American duo resumed their rivalry at the U.S. trials in July, when Peirsol avenged his loss Down Under. The two were stroke for stroke the entire race, but Peirsol lunged to the wall just ahead of Lochte, tying the mark set by Lochte in Australia.

Their shared world mark of 1:54.32 could be in jeopardy in Friday morning's final. Peirsol, the 100 back champion in Beijing, will try to complete a sweep of the backstroke events for the second consecutive Olympics.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.