Swimming: Malul qualifies for final at worlds

Malul advanced with a time in the evening race of 28.08 seconds.

Miki Malul 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
Miki Malul 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Miki Malul will race in the 50-meter breaststroke final at the FINA Swimming World Championships on Wednesday after clocking the eighth fastest time in a semifinal in Melbourne on Tuesday. Malul, who advanced to the semis after finishing the heats in a new Israeli record time of 27.92 seconds, clocked a slightly slower time in the evening race (28.08), but nevertheless booked a spot in the final by the smallest of margins. He came in fourth at the same event at the European championships three months ago and finished Tuesday's semifinal one hundredth of a second faster than Russian Roman Sludnov, who will not compete in the final after finishing ninth. Despite reaching the final, Malul still has not met the Olympic Committee of Israel criteria for the 2008 Beijing Games due to the fact that the 50m breaststroke is not an Olympic event. Tom Be'eri also took part in the 50m breaststroke heats on Tuesday, clocking a time of 29.92 seconds, which placed him in 57th place overall. Phelps leads a goldenwave for Americans On a golden night in the pool for the Americans, no one was better than Michael Phelps. He became the first man in history to go under one minute 44 seconds in the 200-meter freestyle at the world championships, breaking Ian Thorpe's revered world record on the home turf of the retired star. The crowd at Rod Laver Arena had barely caught its breath from Phelps's spectacular effort when five minutes later American Natalie Coughlin broke her own world mark in the 100 backstroke. And that was just the beginning for the Americans, who won four of five golds and set three world records. Phelps started it with a bang. He defeated Pieter van den Hoogenband of the Netherlands by a whopping 2.42 seconds. The 21-year-old American led all the way and touched the wall in 1:43.86. Thorpe's mark was 1:44.06, set at the 2001 world meet in Fukuoka, Japan. It was Phelps's first individual gold of the meet. He led off the victorious 400 free relay Sunday. "I'm 2-for-2. The ball is rolling," he said. "Let's keep everything rolling." So the Americans did. Peirsol won his third straight world championship in the 100 back, lowering his own world mark in the process. "This is the most impressive team I've ever been on," Peirsol said. "What Michael did was absolutely incredible and certainly Natalie followed up well. I had to do something." Federica Pellegrini of Italy got into the act, too, taking down the world record in the semifinals of the women's 200 free. Teenager Kate Ziegler won the women's 1,500 freestyle for the Americans' fourth gold of the night. Leisel Jones of Australia kept the United States from a sweep, winning the 100 breaststroke. The 200 free was a major test of Phelps's plans to challenge for eight gold medals at next year's Beijing Olympics. At Athens, he settled for bronze in the fastest 200 ever, spoiling his bid to match Mark Spitz's record of seven gold medals.