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Alshammar's world-record effort denied

TRIPLE Olympic gold medalist Stephanie Rice won the 200-meter individual medley at the Australian swimming championships yesterday, ensuring she'll be in Rome for the world titles in July.

The first day of the trials, which end on Saturday, was overshadowed by a controversy involving Swedish world champion Therese Alshammar.

Alshammar broke her own 50m butterfly world record in the morning heats yesterday but was later disqualified by Swimming Australia for wearing two swimsuits.

Alshammar set a time of 25.44 seconds to take 0.02 of a second off the record 25.46 she set at Barcelona, Spain on June 13, 2007, in the non-Olympic event.

But officials later discovered that Alshammar was wearing two swimsuits in the race and ruled that the time would not stand. Swimming Australia said that under swimming governing body FINA's 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.

Alshammar was ordered to appear before Swimming Australia officials after they viewed a television replay showing her wearing two suits. The 31-year-old immediately lodged an appeal.

Rice, in her first major meet since winning the 200 and 400 IMs at the Beijing Olympics and the 4x200 freestyle relay - all in world record time - beat Emily Seebohm in the 200 medley yesterday after earlier finishing second in the 200 freestyle.

Rice, who had a two-month layoff after the Olympics, said she was pleased with her performances despite a quick turnaround time in the two races. "I barely had my cap and goggles on before I walked out for that race," she said. "With the preparation I have had I am really happy."

Nick D'Arcy, who was kicked off the Australian Olympic team for Beijing after being charged with assault, returned to the pool to beat his national record in the 200 butterfly by two thirds of a second.

D'Arcy will be sentenced on March 27 in Sydney after pleading guilty last November to inflicting bodily harm on former Commonwealth Games medalist Simon Cowley in a barroom fight last March.

The maximum sentence is 10 years in jail. Any time in prison could jeopardize his chances of going to Rome on the Australian team.


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