Bernard breaks 100m free record for second time in two days

EINDHOVEN, Netherlands -- French swimmer Alain Bernard might find it difficult to maintain his frantic pace -- a world record a day.

Bernard broke the 100-meter freestyle world record for the second time in two days Saturday, setting a new mark of 47.50 seconds in the final at the European swimming championships.

The 24-year-old Frenchman took one-tenth of a second off his record of 47.60 in Friday's semifinals, which shattered Pieter Van den Hoogenband's mark set at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

"It's unbelievable," Bernard said. "I wanted to be faster today."

Bernard was relatively unknown before these championships. He finished ninth in the 100 freestyle at last year's world championships and seventh in the 2006 Europeans.

"Now I know I'm the man to beat," he said, looking ahead to the Beijing Olympics in August. "I have been searching for this level for years."

He powered to the 50-meter mark in 22.53 seconds, more than three-tenths of a second inside his own record time, and swam the second 50 in 24.97.

As he turned to look at the scoreboard displaying his new record, Bernard sat on the lane marker, spread his muscular arms wide and roared in delight.

World short-course record holder Stefan Nystrand of Sweden was second, nearly a second slower than Bernard in 48.40, and world champion Filippo Magnini of Italy was third in 48.53.

"Alain Bernard's time is fantastic, of course," Magnini said. "But I think I can also clock a time of 47.5 or 47.6 seconds, maybe not here, but in Beijing."

Yury Prilukov of Russia won his fourth straight 1,500 freestyle European title in 14:50.40, adding the title to the 400 gold he won at these championships.

The 23-year-old Prilukov has equaled Joerg Hoffman's record of four straight titles.

Prilukov, who took silver at last year's worlds, started steadily as Commonwealth champion David Davies of Britain swam away fast. The Russian passed Davies at the 700-meter mark and never looked back.

Davies was second in 14:54.28, ahead of world champion Mateusz Sawrymonowicz of Poland, whose 14:58.78 was 13 seconds slower than his winning time in Melbourne.

Davies said he tried going out fast like world-record holder Grant Hackett to see how it felt.

"Conclusion: it hurts like hell," he said.

Swedish teenager Sarah Sjoestroem beat race favorite and defending champion Inge Dekker of the Netherlands in the 100 butterfly in 58.44.

Dekker was off the blocks fast and turned in first position inside world-record pace, but 14-year-old Sjoestroem, swimming in her first international final, was too strong in the second lap and edged past at the wall. Aurore Mongel was third.

"I can't explain it," Sjoestroem said. "It's my first international appearance. I didn't even reckon with making the final."

Yuliya Efimova of Russia won the 200 breaststroke title in 2:24.09, followed by Mirna Jukic of Austria and Alena Alekseeva of Russia.

Earlier, Olympic silver medalist Frederica Pellegrini was disqualified in the heats of the women's 200-meter freestyle Saturday for a false start. Defending champion Laure Manaudou, the world champion and record holder, has left the championships to continue training. She won her second gold Friday in the women's 800 freestyle relay after taking the 200 backstroke.