Hardy breaks own breaststroke record

Updated: November 11, 2009, 3:52 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

STOCKHOLM -- Wearing a torn swimsuit, Jessica Hardy broke her own world record in the women's 50-meter breaststroke by nearly half a second Wednesday at a short-course World Cup meet.

The American finished in 28.96 seconds in a qualifying heat to beat her mark of 29.36, set four days ago in Moscow.

"I'm really happy to go under 29," said Hardy. "It's been a goal all year. I didn't ever think I would do it and I didn't think it would be that easy."

Another American, Peter Marshall, broke his record in the 50-meter backstroke, winning in 22.73 seconds. That surpassed his record of 22.75, set in October in Durban, South Africa.

Meanwhile, Jing Zhao of China continued to collect records, setting her third world mark by winning the women's 100-meter individual medley. Jing won in 58.40 seconds, surpassing the 58.51 set in October by Sweden's Therese Alshammar in Durban, South Africa.

On Tuesday, Jing twice set new marks in the 50 backstroke. Her latest world record was the eighth overall at the World Cup. Earlier, China's Liu Zige set a new mark in the women's 200 butterfly and Sweden's Therese Alshammar broke her own world record in the women's 50-meter butterfly -- 24.46 seconds, beating her own mark of 24.75 set in Durban, South Africa, last month.

In the men's 200-meter medley final, Michael Phelps finished second Wednesday in the old-style swimsuit that will become standard next year.

Phelps, who won a record eight gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, clocked 1 minute 53.93 seconds. He was more than two seconds behind South Africa's Darian Townsend, who won in 1:51.79.

"I'm swimming OK," Phelps said, adding his time "wasn't bad."

"I haven't practiced regularly."

Earlier, Phelps failed to qualify for the 100 butterfly final after finishing 11th in qualifying heats in 51.06 seconds. It was the third final that Phelps missed at the meet. On Tuesday he failed to qualify for the finals of the 100 freestyle and 100 backstroke, in which he was disqualified for swimming too long under water.

Hardy returned to competition in August after serving a one-year doping ban. Leading up to the Olympic trials in July last year, Hardy had been taking a powdered supplement that she mixed in water called Arginine Extreme.

U.S. authorities successfully argued that she should have special exemption to serve only a one-year ban because it was due to the contaminated supplements. However, Hardy could be stripped of Wednesday's world record if that ruling is overturned.

The World Anti-Doping Agency and FINA have appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, saying she should be banned for two years.

"I've been training my butt off because of the stuff I've been through," Hardy said. "The only thing I have control over in my life is swimming and how hard I work. I have really enjoyed working hard and I guess to reap the benefits now is just kind of fun."

The 22-year-old wore a suit with a four-inch tear across her back but said she would put on a new one for the final later Wednesday.

"It's old. I did it a while ago," Hardy said. "They tear pretty easily."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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