Bernard beats Van den Hoogenband's world mark in 100-meter free

Updated: March 23, 2008, 2:29 PM ET
Associated Press

EINDHOVEN, Netherlands -- Alain Bernard shattered the 100-meter freestyle world record Friday with a time of 47.60 seconds at the European swimming championships.

In the first semifinal Bernard took nearly a quarter of a second off the record of 47.84, set by Pieter Van den Hoogenband of the Netherlands at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Van den Hoogenband, the European and Olympic champion, did not race due to illness.

Laure Manaudou led the French women's 800 freestyle relay team to victory -- her second gold of the championships -- and took silver in the 100 backstroke.

Bernard sat on his lane marker and punched the water in delight as he looked up at his time on the scoreboard.

"This is a surprise for me," Bernard said. "I wanted to do my best today and then go really fast tomorrow. It is extra special to do this in the Netherlands."

Bernard turned in 22.88 -- inside Van den Hoogenband's mark -- and stormed down the second lap to finish nearly a second in front of fellow Frenchman Fabien Gilot, who was second.

Short-course world-record holder Stefan Nystrand of Sweden, racing in the second semifinal, was the third-fastest qualifier for Saturday's final and world champion Filippo Magnini of Italy was fifth-fastest.

Alessia Filippi won her second gold of the championships, adding the women's 800 freestyle title to the 400 individual medley she won on Tuesday.

The 20-year-old Italian, who has been swimming the 800 for only a year at major competitions, overtook Camelia Potec of Romania at the 750-meter mark for victory in 8:23.50.

Erika Villaecija Garcia of Spain was second and Potec finished third.

Mireia Belmonte Garcia won the women's 200 individual medley in a new championship record of 2:11.16. It was the 17-year-old Spaniard's first major title. Evelyn Verraszto of Hungary was second and Camille Muffat of France was third.

"Today seems to be a Spanish day in Eindhoven -- two events, two medals," Belmonte Garcia said, referring to Villaecija Garcia's silver.

Yana Klochkova, the two-time Olympic champion at both 200 and 400 individual medley, only just made the final and finished last despite leading after the opening butterfly lap.

Grigory Falko of Russia set a new championship record of 2:09.64 to win the 200 breaststroke title. Hugues Duboscq of France set out fast and was inside world record pace at the halfway mark, but Falko and Alexander Dale Oen of Norway both overtook him on the final lap.

Anastasia Zueva of Russia grabbed back her European record and the continental title from Manaudou in the 100 backstroke, winning in 59.41.

Defending champion Manaudou had broken Zueva's mark on her way to the final and was seeking to make it three European titles in a row.

The French swimmer then went almost directly from the silver medal podium to the starting blocks to lead France to a winning time of 7:52.09 in the 800 freestyle relay.

Manaudou completed her first leg in 1:58.51 to give France a lead that was not threatened until Caitlin McClatchey finished with a 1:56.19 to give Britain silver. Italy was third.

Ioannis Drymonakos of Greece set a new European record of 1:54.16 in the 200 butterfly, overtaking Nikolay Skvortsov on the last lap after the Russian had led throughout the race. Drymonakos went one better than the last European championships when he was second to Pawel Korzeniowski.

This time, it was Korzeniowski who took silver with Skvortsov ending third.

Former world champion Aristeidis Grigoriadis earned the second title of the night for Greece in the men's 50 backstroke in 25.13, edging Flori Lang of Switzerland by just 0.05.

Grigoriadis, the 2005 world champion, was second in the 100 backstroke earlier in the championships.

"I had a bad start, but for that it is a very good time," Grigoriadis said.

In men's diving, Russian veteran Dmitry Sautin retained his 3-meter springboard title with his winning total of 493.70 points, boosted by a near-perfect reverse 2½ somersault with pike that earned five perfect 10s and two 9.5 scores.

Sautin said he had not decided whether to retire after the Beijing Olympics.

"Why should I?" Sautin said. "At my advanced age of 34, I still have a word to say among the world's top [divers]."


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press