By Rod Gilmour
BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Briton Adam Peaty smashed his own world record in the men’s 50 meters breaststroke while Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu and American Katie Ledecky set out their stalls to become the leading female swimmer at the world championships on Tuesday.
Following the successful defense of his 100m title on Monday evening, Peaty clocked a world best time of 26.10 seconds to qualify fastest for the semi-finals at the Duna Arena.
The 22-year-old shaved 0.32 seconds off the record mark he set at the 2015 world championships in Kazan when he first announced himself on the global stage.
“I wasn’t going out there this morning for a world record,” he said, saying he could do faster.
“It’s 10 o’clock and I’m very happy with that swim. That world record is two years old, so it’s due another push on.”
Moments earlier South Africa’s Cameron van der Burgh had gone within 0.12 seconds of breaking Peaty’s previous world record.
The former world and Olympic champion, whose titles have been swiped by Peaty in the last three years, opted to scratch the men’s 100m to focus on the 50m dash.
Racing in separate heats, Van der Burgh looked in fine fettle as he qualified second fastest with a personal best time of 26.54 seconds.
“World records in heats don’t win finals,” Van der Burgh said of Peaty’s time. “We all know what Adam is capable of so it’s a case of going back now and plan going forward.”
Peaty’s exploits overshadowed an intriguing clash which is set to further develop in the women’s 200m freestyle.
Italy’s Federica Pellegrini qualified fastest for the semi-finals in one minute 57.07 seconds, ahead of Hosszu and Ledecky with only 0.36 seconds separating the trio.
Hosszu, fresh from her gold in the women’s 200m individual medley, is gunning for six individual titles, while Ledecky is aiming for a freestyle monopoly across the 200, 400, 800 and 1500 distances.
Pellegrini’s compatriot, Gregorio Paltrinieri, posted the second fastest time of the year with seven minutes 45.31 seconds to lead qualification into the men’s 800m freestyle final.
Sun Yang of China, bidding for four individual freestyle titles, qualified in fifth.
Hungary’s Laszlo Cseh topped qualification in the men’s 200m butterfly heats.
(Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)