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November 12, 2009

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Hardy erases her own record

WEARING a torn swimsuit, Jessica Hardy of the United States broke her own world record in the women's 50-meter breaststroke by nearly half a second yesterday at a short-course World Cup meet in Stockholm.

Hardy finished in 28.96 seconds in a qualifying heat to beat her mark of 29.36 set four days ago in Moscow.

"I'm really happy to go under 29," Hardy said. "It's been a goal all year. I didn't ever think I would do it and I didn't think it would be that easy."

Hardy returned to competition in August after serving a one-year doping ban. Leading up to the Olympic trials in July last year, Hardy had been taking a powdered supplement that she mixed in water called Arginine Extreme.

US authorities successfully argued that she should have special exemption to serve only a one-year ban because it was due to the contaminated supplements. However, Hardy could be stripped of the world record if that ruling is overturned.

The World Anti-Doping Agency and FINA have appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, saying she should be banned for two years.

"I've been training my butt off because of the stuff I've been through," Hardy said. "The only thing I have control over in my life is swimming and how hard I work. I have really enjoyed working hard and I guess to reap the benefits now is just kind of fun."

The 22-year-old Hardy wore a suit with a four-inch tear across her back but said she would put on a new one for the final.

"It's old. I did it a while ago," Hardy said. "They tear pretty easily."

It was the fifth world record set at the meet.

On Tuesday, Zhao Jing of China twice set records in the women's 50 backstroke. Records were also set by Felicity Galvez of Australia in the women's 100 butterfly and Kaio Almeida of Brazil in the men's 200 butterfly.

Michael Phelps meanwhile has qualified for the 200-meter medley final after missing the 100 butterfly final.

Phelps finished in 1 minute, 56.09 seconds to be runner-up in the medley qualifying heats yesterday. Simon Sjodin of Sweden was fastest in 1:55.99.

Earlier, Phelps finished 11th in qualifying for the 100 butterfly in a time of 51.06 seconds. Kaio Almeida of Brazil was fastest in 50.34.

It was the third final that Phelps has missed at the Stockholm meet. He is sporting a beard and has been wearing an old-style swimsuit that will become standard next year, while most other swimmers have used faster high-tech suits.


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