China's Le Jingyi broke the 50-meter freestyle world record and collected her fifth goal medal at the World Swimming Championships Sunday, while Jani Sievinen became the first Finn to break a world mark.
Le clocked 24.51 seconds, trimming .28 seconds off the record set by countrywoman Wenyi Wang at the 1992 Olympics. It was the 10th world record set at these championships, five by Chinese women.Minutes earlier, Sievinen set the ninth record of 1:58.16 in the 200 individual medley.
The fans at the Folo Italico pool were expecting three records in a row when Australia's Kieren Perkins, holder of the 400, 800 and 1,500 marks, came out for the 1,500 final.
But Perkins, suffering from bronchitis, did not approach the 800 and 1,500 records he set two weeks ago at the Commonwealth Games in Victoria, British Columbia. He won the 1,500 in 14.50.52, nearly nine seconds off his record.
Chinese women also won the 200 butterfly and 200 backstroke, underscoring their dominance. Liu Limin collected her third gold of the championships in the butterfly and He Cihong won her third in the backstroke.
The Chinese wound up with 12 swimming golds in 16 women's events. Germany's Franzi Van Almsick (200 freestyle), Janet Evans (800 freestyle) and Australia's Samantha Riley (100 and 200 breaststroke) won the other golds.
In the final event of the competition, the United States 400 medley relay team of Jeff Rouse, Eric Wunderlich, Mark Henderson and Gary Hall set a championship record, giving the Americans their fourth gold.
The Americans also won the gold medal in synchronized swimming, giving Becky Dyroen-Lancer golds in solo, duet and team events.
Le smashed Jenny Thompson's world mark in the 100 freestyle in the first final of the championships and remained in record-breaking form on the final day. She also won golds in the three relays.
Le moved ahead at the halfway point with her stiff, splashing style, and won by more than a meter.
Russia's Natalia Mesheryakova took the silver in 25.10 and American Amy Van Dyken was third in 25.49.
Sievinen reached the halfway mark, after the butterfly and backstroke legs of the medley, in 56.61, inside world record pace.
The Finn, silver medalist in the 400 medley Tuesday, increased his lead on the breaststroke leg and was well ahead at the finish.
American Greg Burgess took the silver medal in 2:00.86 and Hungary's Attila Czene collected the bronze.
Perkins opened up a clear lead early in the 1,500 and simply kept it, without pulling away from the field.
"I was feeling bad because of a wild attack of bronchitis," Perkins said. "It was giving me difficulty breathing and I realized after 10 minutes swimming my breathing was causing me problems."
Liu Limin powered away from countrywoman Qu Yun to won the 200-meter butterfly in a championship record 2:07.25.
In exactly the same 1-2-3 as the 100 butterfly final, Australia's Susan O'Neill won the bronze.
He Cihong, who set a world record for the 100 backstroke in the first leg of Saturday's medley relay, had a battle with Hungary's Kristina Egerszegi in the 200 final, with the lead changing twice.
World record-holder Egerszegi appeared to be moving ahead at the halfway point, but He produced a powerful final lap to pull away and win in 2:07.40, a championship record. Egerszegi held on to second, ahead of Lorenza Vigarani, who won Italy's first medal of the championships.
World record-holder Rouse, disappointed in losing the 100 backstroke Saturday, gave the United States medley relay team an early lead and breaststroker Wunderlich, another silver medalist, increased it.