SYDNEY // Sweden's Therese Alshammar broke her own 50 metre butterfly world record at the Australian swimming titles today but was later disqualified by Swimming Australia for wearing two swimsuits. Alshammar set a time of 25.44 seconds in the morning qualifying heats to take 0.02 of a second off the record 25.46 she set in Barcelona, Spain in June 2007. But officials later discovered that Alshammar was wearing two suits in the race. Swimming Australia said that under swimming governing body FINA's (Fédération Internationale de Natation) new rules that were ratified last weekend, and Swimming Australia's rules instituted last year, Alshammar would be disqualified because it states that swimmers may only wear one suit.
Swimming Australia spokesman Ian Hanson confirmed Alshammar would appeal the decision which came after a five-hour meeting. The appeal will be heard later today by the meet referee Janelle Barnett. Last Saturday in Dubai, FINA adopted new rules for the hi-tech suits that helped produce more than 100 world records in just over a year. The guidelines "revise the requirements for swimsuit approval" and it was said they would be in place for the world championships in Rome starting on July 17.
FINA stipulated that swimsuits should not cover the neck and will not extend past the shoulders and ankles. Alshammar, 31, would not have had another chance to break her mark at the Australian championships. As a foreigner, she is not allowed to compete in semi-finals or finals and there is no B final for the race. Alshammar, the reigning world champion in the non-Olympic event, has been training with the Australian swimmers in Sydney for the past two months.
"I am a bit shocked myself, and I am very happy," Alshammar said before learning of her disqualification. "I have had a great couple of months in Australia, it is the best place in the world for swimming." The race continued the Swedish swimmer's strong performances in the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre pool - her three Olympic medals all came at Sydney in 2000. Alshammar had a disappointing Beijing Olympics, heading to last year's Games as a strong medal prospect in the 50m freestyle.
But she missed the final at the Water Cube after she discovered a tear in her swimsuit just before the start of her semi-final, and failed to qualify for the last eight. *AP