Steffen swims to women's 100m free world record

BUDAPEST, Hungary -- Germany's Britta Steffen set a world record in the women's 100-meter freestyle at the European Swimming Championships on Wednesday, finishing in 53.30 seconds.

She broke the mark of 53.42 by Australia's Lisbeth Lenton, set
at the Commonwealth Games trials on Jan. 31 in Melbourne,

Steffen looked at the time on the screen above the pool and
almost started to cry. She then took off her cap, her look turning
to one of astonishment.

"I can't believe it. It's like when you lose and you can't
believe it, either," Steffen said. "I still can't believe I set a
new world record."

On Monday, Steffen was part of the German team that broke the
world record in the women's 400 freestyle relay.

In the 100, Steffen was 0.11 seconds off the previous record at
the 50-meter mark, but held up strongly on the second and final lap
to break the record by 0.12.

Her previous best time was 54.29, a national record set in June
at the German championships. But she was relatively unknown on the
international stage.

The 22-year-old swimmer's best previous placing was 15th in the
50 freestyle at the 2002 Europeans. Steffen, however, gave an
indication Monday of her potential when she swam her leg in the
record-breaking relay in 52.66, the fastest ever.