30 Jul 2009

Phelps back in world record form

7:40 am on 30 July 2009

Michael Phelps regained his golden touch with a record-setting triumph in the men's 200m butterfly at the swimming World Championships in Rome.

The 14-time Olympic gold medallist was stunned in the 200m free yesterday, when Germany's Paul Biedermann took both his world title and world record.

But Phelps responded convincingly in the fly, leading from start to finish and winning in a time half a second better than he recorded in winning Olympic gold in Beijing, part of his record eight-gold Olympic haul.

For Phelps it was a welcome ride on the world record wave that has swept through the 2009 championships, fueled by the high-tech bodysuits that are to be banned next year.

Italy's Federica Pellegrini, South African Cameron Van Der Burgh and China's Zhang Lin also claimed world titles in world record times, while the women's 50m backstroke semi-finals saw the world record fall twice in the blink of an eye, german Daniela Samulski lowering her own world record in the first semi-final only to be pipped by Russian Anastasia Zueva's in the second semi.

Today's seven world records - including Mary Descenza's in the women's 200m butterfly heats - has taken the total to 22 at the halfway stage of the eight-day competition.

That's well past the 15 set at the 2007 World Championships and closing in on the 25 set at the Beijing Olympics.