Swedish swimmers shine while Phelps disappoints in Stockholm

AFP/The Local
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Swedish swimmers shine while Phelps disappoints in Stockholm

Swedish swimmer Stefan Nystrand set a new national record at the short-course World Cup in Stockholm on Tuesday, while American Olympic sensation Michael Phelps failed to live up to expectations.


“It was really nice to win at home with my girlfriend, family, and friends in the bleachers,” Nystrand told Sveriges Television (SVT) after winning the 100 metres freestyle with a new Swedish record time of 45.93 secs.

Sweden’s Therese Alshammar also turned in a solid performance in the 50 metres freestyle. After being the only swimmer to finish under 24 seconds in the qualifying heats before winning the final with a time of 23.75secs, just 16 hundredths of a second slower than her Swedish record in the event.

“This is a fantastic feeling, it’s almost like I need to calm down a bit. I’m really happy and my body feels strong,” Alshammar told SVT.

Phelps, who won an unprecedented eight gold medals at last year's Beijing Olympics, failed to qualify for the final in two out of the three races he contested, before finishing the day with bronze in the 100m individual medley.

The 24-year-old US star did have the excuse that he chose to anticipate the FINA ban on high-tech bodysuits due to come into force on January 1.

Until then swimmers can choose either to stick with the bodysuits which sparked an avalanche of world records at the world championships in Rome in July or switch back to more conventional attire.

Phelps shunned the high-tech swimsuits, due to be phased out at the end of the year, and paid the price on a day when four world records were set in the fourth leg of the short-course World Cup.

And Phelps, competing for the first time since Rome, opted not to use the controversial suit and clocked 47.77 seconds in the heats of the 100 metres freestyle, the 16th fastest time and 1.84secs slower than Nystrand.

He was then disqualified in the 100 backstroke heats for an overlong push-off.

Phelps did make the final of the 100m individual medley and claimed the bronze in 52.14 behind South African winner Gerhard Zandberg who clocked 51.77 and Russia's Sergey Fesikov (51.86).

"Without the suit I've the impression of being naked," admitted the American.

"But we have to get used to it so it's good to start now."

The Stockholm meeting was also the first time that Phelps has taken part in a short-course event since 2006 and the first time in Europe since 2001, also in Stockholm.

"I wanted to swim at least one (final) this evening. (3rd in the 100m medley) it's not bad given I wasn't in form!" added Phelps, who is expected to swim the 100m butterfly and the 200m individaul medley on Wednesday.

The high-tech polyurethane bodysuit was a must to break records in the Swedish captial.

Chinese swimmer Zhao Jing improved her own short course world record in the 50 metres backstroke with a time of 25.82 seconds. She had set her previous mark earlier on Tuesday in the heats with a time of 26.08sec.

Australia's Felicity Galvez broke the 100 metres butterfly mark, timing 55.46 seconds to eclipse the previous record of 55.68sec set by compatriot Jessicah Schipper in Hobart, Australia, on August 12 this year.

And Brazilian swimmer Kaio Almeida broke the men's 200 metres butterfly world record, timing 1 minute 49.11 seconds, to bettered the 1:50.53 set by Russia's Nikolay Skvortsov on February 11 in St-Petersburg.

Nystrand gave the home crowd something to cheer when he claimed gold in the 100m freestyle.

"I thought that Phelps and (Amaury) Leveaux would be quicker. But at the same time there are a lot of fast guys. Brent (Hayden, 2nd) was there, (Danila) Izotov was there (3rd) …," said Nystrand.

Germany's Paul Biedermann, who beat Phelps in the 200m freestyle at the world championships this year in Rome was forced out of the 100m and 400m freestyle event because of a thigh injury.

Also failing to make it into the final of the 100m freestyle were French speedster Frederic Bousquet (47.53secs), Australia's Eamon Sullivan (47.38secs) and Filipo Magnini of Italy (47.74secs).


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