Ruta Meilutytė set a new 50m breaststroke world record of 28.37 seconds enroute in the semi-finals on day six of the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) in Melbourne.
The Lithuanian who held the long course record in the event between 2013 and 2017, knocked 0.19 secs off the short course record which was set by Jamaica’s Alia Atkinson in 2018.
Earlier in the week Meilutytė was controversially disqualified for an alleged illegal second butterfly leg-kick at the start of the 100m breaststroke final, a race she had initially taken silver in behind the USA’s Lilly King.
“I’m so happy with the world record, it’s amazing,” she told FINA TV.
“After being disqualified it made me really think about what it takes to be successful and it’s really about enjoying it and focusing on that I think is my biggest achievement.”
She will return for the 50m final on Sunday, the last night of competition in Australia.
Earlier the Italian men’s 4x50m medley relay team knocked 0.42 secs off the previous world record in their event as they held off USA and Australia in the battle for gold.
The team of Lorenzo Mora, Nicolo Martinenghi, Matteo Rivolta and Leonardo Deplano finished in a new landmark time of one minute 29.72 secs.
“It’s incredible to set a new world record,” said Martinenghi.
“We are a good team, a strong team and we did this for our nation and everyone who is following us from Italy earlier in the morning, that’s our gift to them.”
In the women’s event Sweden’s quartet of Louise Hansson, Klara Thomalm, Sara Junevik and Michelle Coleman claimed bronze behind the world record breaking Australian team and runners-up the USA.
Distance swimming great Gregorio Paltrinieri had only previously contested 1500m events at World Short Course Championships, but added a maiden 800m freestyle title to his collection after finishing in 7:29.99.
“It was a difficult race, I felt tiredness in the race, but another gold medal is cool,” Paltrinieri said. “Every time you learn, even at 28 now I take something from every race, so it was important for me to race here even if it was the longest season ever.”
Henrik Christiansen of Norway (7:31.48) took silver, with Frenchman Logan Fontaine (7:33.12) claiming bronze.
The women’s 50m freestyle saw two European athletes claim podium finishes, with Polish record holder Katarzyna Waswick (23.55) claiming second, behind Australian Olympic champion Emma McKeon (23.04) and Britain’s Anna Hopkin (23.68) finishing third.
Team-mate Ben Proud, the defending 50m free champion who has won World, European and Commonwealth titles during a golden 2022, had to settle for silver (20.49) behind rising star Jordan Cooper (20.46) from the Cayman Islands.
The women’s 400m individual medley event also saw further successes for European athletes with Italian Sara Franceschi taking silver behind USA’s Hali Flickinger.