SINGAPORE: South Africa’s Kathryn Meaklim, American Peter Marshall and Swedish swim queen Therese Alshammar stormed to new world records on Sunday as the shortcourse World Cup season concluded in style.
The first day of the meet on Saturday surprisingly saw no new world marks despite 16 being set in Berlin last weekend. But that all changed with the Meaklim obliterating the women’s 400m individual medley record. She turned under world record time after the butterfly then fell off the pace on backstroke before recovering strongly with impressive breaststroke and freestyle legs to clock 4mins 22.88secs. It knocked nearly three seconds off the old mark set by Spain’s Mareia Belmonte in Rijeka, Croatia in December last year.
Like Meaklim, Marshall has been in sizzling form this year and he broke his own 50m backstroke world record, leading from start-to-finish to touch in 22.61secs. His time shaved a fraction of a second off his previous record of 22.73 set in Stockholm earlier this month.
It was left to Alshammar in the final event of the day to bring the house down once again with the unstoppable Swede smashing her own 50m butterfly mark, touching in 24.28secs. It beat the previous best of 24.46 she set in Stockholm.
Before Sunday’s exploits, only Natalie Coughlan of the United States had broken a world record in Singapore, and that was two years ago. It was a fitting finale to a World Cup season that has also taken swimmers to Durban, Moscow, Stockholm, and Berlin, with 37 world records broken in total.
Those sort of performances are unlikely to be seen again with the vast majority achieved by athletes wearing the high-tech swimsuits that will be banned from January 1. Singapore is one of the last times the controversial suits will be worn.
Meaklim was the standout performer, returning to the pool to upset a jaded-looking world record holder Leisel Jones of Australia in the 200m breaststroke. The South African came home in 2:20.52, well off world record pace, ahead of Jones (2:21.31) and fellow Australian Sarah Katsollis.
In other races, Britain’s Francesa Halsall set a new World Cup best time over the 100m freestyle, hitting the wall in 51.19 ahead of Inge Dekkar of the Netherlands and Germany’s Daniela Schreiber. American world record holder Jessica Hardy comfortably won the 50m breaststroke with Katsollis second and Jones third, while Australia’s Jessicah Schipper took out the 200m butterfly title.
Among the men, South Africa’s Darian Townsend came close to beating his own record in the individual medley, but slowed after the final 25m to finish in 1:52.49, a second outside his best time. Russia’s Arkady Vyatchanin was also poised to break his world record in the backstroke, under the pace over 150m before fading to narrowly miss out. Australia’s Robert Hurley upset favourite Ousamma Mellouli of Tunisia in the 1500m freestyle while South Africa’s Cameron van der Burgh comfortably claimed the 100m breaststroke gold medal.