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August 2, 2009

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Chinese women smash medley mark

CHINA won the women's 400-meter medley relay yesterday with the 39th world record of the world swimming championships in Rome.

China battled it out with Australia all the way before Li Zhesi touched in 3 minutes, 52.19 seconds to beat the mark set by the Aussies (3:52.69) at the Beijing Olympics.

Australia also went under the old mark, settling for silver in 3:52.58. Germany took the bronze.

The winning team also included Zhao Jing, Chen Huijia and Jiao Liuyang.

Earlier, Michael Phelps beat Milorad Cavic again, and this time there was no doubt about it.

With a defiant performance in a supposedly inferior suit, Phelps stayed close over the outward lap and rallied on the return to become the first swimmer to break 50 seconds in the 100-meter butterfly, beating the Serbian with a time of 49.82 at the world championships in Rome.

Cavic also broke 50 seconds, but 49.95 was only good enough for silver. He wasn't nearly as close as last year's Beijing Olympics, when Phelps famously won by one-hundredth of a second in a race in which Cavic always maintained that he touched first.

Rafael Munoz of Spain was third in 50.41.

Earlier, Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe set the 36th world record of the championships, beating her own mark in the 200 backstroke.

After the first two finals yesterday evening failed to produce records, Coventry got the fastest meet in history back on track with a winning time of 2 minutes, 4.81 seconds.

Russia's Anastasia Zueva also went under Coventry's old mark of 2:05.24, but her 2:04.94 was only good enough for the silver, while American Elizabeth Beisel claimed bronze in 2:06.39.

Cesar Cielo of Brazil completed a sweep of the freestyle sprints with the 50-meter title. Cielo added to his title in the 100 with a one-lap time of 21.08 to hold off world-record holder Fred Bousquet (21.21) and fellow Frenchman Amaury Leveaux (21.25).

Marieke Guehrer of Australia took the women's 50 butterfly in 25.48, short of the mark set the previous day in the semifinals by Sweden's Therese Alshammar (25.07).

Zhou Yafei of China took the silver and Ingvild Snildal of Norway the bronze, edging out Alshammar for a medal by one-hundredth of a second.

In the preliminaries, China's Sun Yang beat Tunisia's Olympic champion Oussama Mellouli by two-hundredths of a second to qualify for today's 1,500 freestyle final with a fastest time of 14:54.54.

Zhang Lin, who became China's first male long-course swimming world champion last Wednesday when he destroyed the world record to win the 800 freestyle, also went through when he finished third in a heat won by Canada's Ryan Cochrane.


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