Records fall in men's 100 breast, women's 100 back, men's 4x100 relay

BEIJING -- The swimming record book will need some heavy revisions by the time the Beijing Olympics are over.

Four more world marks fell Monday morning when Kosuke Kitajima of Japan finished off American Brendan Hansen's hopes of an individual medal, winning the 100 breaststroke in 58.91 seconds. Kitajima pounded the water defiantly and let out a scream after breaking Hansen's 2-year-old record of 59.13.

Hansen was left without a medal, fading to fourth behind silver medalist Alexander Dale Oen of Norway and Hugues Duboscq of France, who took bronze.

Jason Lezak outtouched Alain Bernard of France at the wall to give the United States a victory in the 400-meter freestyle relay and keep alive Michael Phelps' bid for eight Olympic gold medals.

Lezak overtook the Frenchman to win in 3 minutes, 8.24 seconds, breaking the world record of 3:12.23 set by the Americans in Sunday's preliminaries.

France took the silver in 3:08.32. Australia earned the bronze in 3:09.91.

Phelps' hopes of breaking Mark Spitz's record of seven golds in a single games appeared doomed when the French took over the lead at the 250 mark. They were 4.03 seconds under world-record pace at 350 meters before Lezak, the oldest American male swimmer at 32, rallied over the closing strokes.

Kirsty Coventry didn't even bother waiting until a final to set a record in the 100 backstroke. The Zimbabwean won her semifinal heat in 58.77, taking down Natalie Coughlin's mark of 58.97 set at the U.S. trials last month.

They'll go head to head in Tuesday morning's final. Coughlin won her heat in 59.43 with a nice, comfortable swim.

And Federica Pellegrini of Italy set a world mark in the 200-meter freestyle preliminaries.

She won her heat Monday night in 1 minute, 55.45 seconds, lowering the old mark of 1:55.52 set by Laure Manaudou of France in March 2007.

Manaudou, the current world champion, did not attempt to qualify for the event at the French trials.

It was the eighth world record set during the swimming competition.

While Hansen still has a swim left in the medley relay, he'll go down as one of the major disappointments of the American team. A one-time world record holder in both the 100 and 200 breaststrokes, he didn't even qualify for the Olympics in the longer race.

Putting all his hopes of beating Kitajima in the 100, he wasn't close to the Japanese star, finishing 0.66 seconds behind.

"I've just had a really off year, on a really important year," Hansen said. "I just feel like that's not the last you're going to see of me. I'm going to bring it back and I won't be done until I at least have a legitimate shot at those world records again."

Hansen swam over to Kitajima's lane to congratulate the winner.

"You've got to tip your hat to somebody that does something like that in a pressure-packed race like that. That's a hell of a swim, and he is a true champion," he said.

Coventry put down quite a challenge to Coughlin. Then again, Coughlin has been known to rise to the challenge -- when Hayley McGregory broke her world record in the prelims at the U.S. trials, Coughlin came back in the very next heat to take it back.

Now, Coventry has it, and Coughlin can't be too happy about that.

"I'm very excited. It was a great swim," Coventry said. "I just got to go home and take care of myself. It's going to be a tight final. ... Natalie's just so good at racing and planning out her races, so I just expect nothing but fast, fast swimming tomorrow morning."

Coughlin will be side-by-side with Coventry in the final.

"It went very well," she said. "It's exactly where I wanted to be going into the finals. I'm happy with that. I just need to recover and focus on my final."

Katie Hoff was again denied a gold medal when Rebecca Adlington of Britain rallied over the final 50 meters to overtake the 19-year-old, who had settled for a bronze the previous day in the 400 individual medley.

Adlington won in 4:03.22, while Hoff took the silver in 4:03.29. Adlington's teammate Joanne Jackson earned the bronze in 4:03.52. Defending champion Laure Manaudou finished last in the eight-woman final.

"I saw Katie and thought, 'Let's just try to catch her,'" Adlington said. "That's what I did."

Hoff still has three more individual events, plus a relay.

"I was a little disappointed I was so close," she said. "But I got a bronze yesterday and a silver this morning. If I keep climbing at this pace, I'll be happy."

Hoff is 0-for-2 in finals so far, taking a bronze in the 400 individual medley.

Libby Trickett of Australia just missed another world record in the women's 100 butterfly, winning gold with a time of 56.73. American Christine Magnuson claimed the silver (57.10) and another Aussie, Jess Schipper, took the bronze (57.25).

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.