Germans break Aussie girls’ freestyle world record1 August 2006
The Australian 4x100 metres freestyle relay team will have a race on its hands at next year’s FINA World Championships in Melbourne, after Germany broke the world record set by the Australians at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Day One of the 28th European Swimming Championships in Budapest witnessed the German foursome set a new world record of 3:35.22, erasing Australia’s Athens gold medal mark 0.72 of a second.
The German team of Petra Dallmann, Daniela Goetz, Britta Steffen and Annika Liebs were just outside the world time at the half way mark before Steffen produced the fastest 100 metre relay split in history with a near unthinkable 52.66 seconds to send veteran, Liebs into the anchor leg to claim the record.
Steffen's remarkable split came as a shock and is marginally better than that of Lenton’s 52.85 recorded at the Commonwealth Games this year and 52.95 by Jodie Henry in the same relay event at the 2004 Games.
“It can't have been me. I still can't grasp or believe it. I didn't feel well before the race but after the heats this morning (3:38) we set our hearts on the world record," Steffen told Swimnews.com.
The 23-year-old German looks set to pose the biggest threat to the Australian female sprinting dominance at the 2007 World Championships in Melbourne early next year with all eyes turning to her individual 100 metre performance in Hungary later in the week where she will be looking to replicate her remarkable relay performance.
Australia’s women are regarded as the finest sprinters in the world with Commonwealth and World champion, Lisbeth Lenton, Olympic champion, Jodie Henry and Alice Mills owning three of the fastest four individual times ever swum in the 100 metre event.