x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Records tumble in the pool

Two more world records were broken as the red hot pace continued at the United States Olympic team trials.

Aaron Peirsol, in the centre, broke the world record in the 100m backstroke .
Aaron Peirsol, in the centre, broke the world record in the 100m backstroke .

OMAHA // Two more world records were broken as the red hot pace continued at the United States Olympic team trials. Aaron Peirsol and Natalie Coughlin each set world records in the men's and women's 100 metres backstroke, clocking in at 52.89secs and 58.97 respectively on the third day of the Olympic-qualifying event.

Michael Phelps also set a United States open record in the men's 200m freestyle by finishing the event's final swim in one minute 44.10secs. It was the second win of the week for the six-time gold medallist, who broke the world record in the 400m individual medley during Sunday's races. But it was a thrilling day in the 100m backstroke. With his world-best swim, Peirsol edged Matt Grevers, who clocked in at 53.19secs to also qualify for a spot in the Beijing Olympics.

The top two finishers in each event earn a berth at next month's Games. Peirsol said: "It is a huge confidence booster any time I can come out on top of a field like that. It is the fastest heat I've ever been in. Sixth place would have medalled at the Olympics in 2004. I knew what I had to do, and 54 seconds was not going to make the team this time. "I feel like I have a huge weight off my back. Some of those guys were matching my best times."

In setting her world record, Coughlin became the first woman to swim the 100m backstroke in under 59 seconds. She beat her own world mark, which was set in Aug 2002, when she became the first woman to break the one-minute barrier in the event. "It was nice to see fireworks tonight and get that ticket to Beijing," said Coughlin, who referred to the display at the Qwest Center when a swimmer breaks a world record there.

"This is such an emotional meet that it is a relief to make the team. Now, I can take a deep breath and enjoy the rest of the meet." Margaret Hoelzer finished second in 59.21 to earn her spot in the Beijing. * Reuters