American Hardy breaks mark at short-course worlds

MANCHESTER, England -- Chalk up another world record for the Speedo LZR Racer swimsuit.

Jessica Hardy of the United States set a record in the women's 50-meter breaststroke at the short-course world championships Thursday, finishing in 29.58 seconds to shave 0.32 off the record.

Since the LZR suit was unveiled in February, 19 long-course and four short-course world records have been set. The new Speedo suit has been worn in all but one of those swims.

Swimming's world governing body decided last weekend not to ban the new high-tech Speedo suit, despite claims of buoyancy and "technological doping" by some critics.

"I love wearing the new suit," Hardy said. "I don't know the politics behind it, but I feel comfortable and more confident in it. It's fabulous for our sport. I just wear what I'm allowed to wear."

Jade Edmistone of Australia had set the previous record of 29.90 in 2004.

Kate Haywood of Britain and Sarah Katsoulis of Australia shared silver at 30.35. Yuliya Efimova, a 16-year-old Russian, touched second but was disqualified for a false start.

"We don't race short-course ever, so I don't know what to set my goals at," a surprised Hardy said.

Each world record in Manchester comes with a $15,000 prize, and Hardy said she might do some shopping.

Ryan Lochte -- who also wears the LZR -- defended his title in the 400 individual medley with a winning time of 4:03.21, slightly off his championship record of 4:02.49 set two years ago in Shanghai.

It was Lochte's second gold of the championship after leading off the American world record in the 400 free relay Wednesday.

Lochte's American teammate Robert Margalis finished second in 4:03.74, and Ioannis Drymonakos of Greece was third in 4:05.11.

Liam Tancock of Britain won the 100 backstroke in 50.14. Randall Bal of the United States finished second in 50.42 and Stanislav Donets of Russia took the bronze in 50.53.

Markus Rogan, the Austrian who has finished second seven times at Olympics and world championships, placed fourth.

Last week, Tancock became the first British swimmer in 18 years to hold a world record when he established a new mark in the 50 back (long course) at the British Olympic trials.

"I am a bit lost for words," Tancock said. "I was an outside smoker from lane eight, and after last night [when he qualified eighth] people might have written me off."

Six championship records also fell Thursday.

Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe picked up her second gold of the championships by breaking her own meet mark in the women's 100 backstroke.

A day earlier, Coventry -- who also wears the LZR -- set a world record in the 400 individual medley.

This time, Coventry finished in 57.10, with Kateryna Zubkova of Ukraine second in 57.15 and Sanja Jovanovic of Croatia third in 57.80.

A few minutes later, Coventry got back in the water and won her heat in the 100 IM semifinals.

"I don't have a trials, so this is kind of my last big meet to see how fast I can go before the Olympics," Coventry said. "I'm getting a little tired, but this is great preparation for Beijing."

Championship records also were set by Igor Borysik of Ukraine (men's 100 breaststroke), Peter Mankoc of Slovenia (men's 100 fly), Rebecca Adlington of Britain (women's 800 free) and Felicity Galvez of Australia (women's 50 fly semifinals).

The final meet record of the day fell in the men's 800 freestyle relay, with the Australian team of Kirk Palmer, Grant Brits, Nicholas Sprenger and Kenrick Monk finishing in 6:55.65 -- three seconds off the Aussies' world record of 6:52.66 set last year.