Biedermann takes 200m free world title, record from Phelps

ROME: Germany's Paul Biedermann handed Michael Phelps his first major international defeat since 2005 on Tuesday, winning the 200m freestyle world title in a world record of 1min 42.00sec.

Biedermann broke the world record of 1:42.96 set by Phelps in winning Olympic gold at the Beijing Olympics last August 12. Phelps was second in 1:43.22.

Phelps, who claimed an unprecedented eight Olympic gold medals in Beijing to take his career total to 14, hadn't been beaten in individual world or Olympic competition since losing to Ian Crocker in the 100m fly at the 2005 Worlds in Montreal.

He was 10-for-10 since then, winning five individual events at the 2007 World Championships in Melbourne and five in Beijing.

Phelps, who took six months off after the Beijing Games, the longest break of his competitive career, tried to be philosophical, but it was clear the defeat stung.

"Theoretically that was a pretty good swim for me," the 24-year-old said. "Three-tenths off my best time after taking six months off.

"I'm mean, I'm not happy, but I know I didn't train much this year. But for right now I'll take it - but I'm not pleased." Biedermann's performance followed his 400m freestyle triumph, in which he erased the iconic world record set by Australian Ian Thorpe in 2002.

The German acknowledged after that race that he believed his high-tech bodysuit made a difference of some two seconds for him in the 400m free.

Phelps wore a waist-to-legs version of the Speedo LZR, last year's groundbreaking suit that has been overtaken by new technology.

Phelps got off the blocks quickest, but Biedermann had seized the lead by the first turn and never gave it back. He touched the final wall nearly a body length in front of Phelps.

Phelps's walk around the pool with the other medallists after the victory ceremony looked more like a trudge as behind him Biedermann danced and waved his bouquet of flowers.

Once it was over, Phelps headed up some stairs to the stands, where he received hugs from his mother and sister.