Bernard smashes world 100 freestyle record

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{image-alain bernard_22032008.jpg}Eindhoven(Netherlands),March 22 : Frenchman Alain Bernard set a new world record for the men's 100 metres freestyle in a time of 47.60 seconds at the European swimming championships here yesterday.

Bernard beat the previous record of 47.84 set by Dutchman Pieter van den Hoogenband on September 19, 2000, in Sydney, Australia.
With only five months until the summer Olympics, Bernard's time has set the stage for a thrilling battle for the men's 100 metre crown in Beijing.
Bernard however still has to qualify, by winning the French championships next month.

After showing his intentions with a time of 48.70 in the morning heats, Bernard came out firing on all cylinders in the semi-finals where he powered ahead of his rivals over the last 50 metres.

It is the first time he has swam the distance under the mythic 48-second barrier. His previous best time was 48.12, set in June 2007 in Saint Raphael in southern France.

Reigning two-time Olympic 100m freestyle champion Van den Hoogenband was absent from Friday's race having pulled out of the competition citing illness, in the wake of failing to qualify from the heats of the 200m freestyle

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