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July 30, 2009

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Home » Sports » Swimming

Biedermann steals the limelight

UNHERALDED Paul Biedermann took down a hallowed world record held by Ian Thorpe on the opening day of swimming at the world championships, then handed the Michael Phelps his first major loss in four years in Rome.

"Ian Thorpe is a swimming legend and Michael Phelps is a living legend. I feel proud for both (feats)," Biedermann said. "When I was younger I watched both of them."

The 22-year-old German broke Thorpe's seven-year-old record in the 400 freestyle, then soundly beat Phelps in the 200 free on Tuesday.

"My coach said Michael couldn't be beat at the start and the turns. The only way to beat him is swimming," Biedermann said.

Critics attribute the upsets to Biedermann's high-tech swimsuit from Arena, the 100 percent polyurethane X-Glide. Phelps is still wearing last year's Speedo LZR, which is less than half polyurethane.

Biedermann was getting tired of the swimsuit accusations.

"It's FINA's problem. They should handle it really fast," he said.

"Of course the suits make a difference. Last year it was the Speedo, this year it's Arena. I'm not angry, but I'm a little sad it's all about the suits. It's still the athlete who has to train and swim the race. The athlete is still more important. I hope there will be a time I can beat Michael Phelps without these suits," Biedermann said.

Biedermann was not a complete unknown in the swimming community. In November, he broke Thorpe's eight-year-old short-course world record in the 200 free.

"Biedermann has been very strong since he was very young," Italy coach Alberto Castagnetti said. "He didn't burst out of nowhere. Phelps is not in top form. Let's see what happens when they're both in top form."


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