Lithuania's teenage Olympic champion Ruta Meilutyte broke the women's 100m breaststroke world record with a new mark of 1min 04.35secs on Monday in the semi-finals at the swimming world championships.
The 16-year-old, who pulled off a shock win in the Olympic final in London last year, blazed into Tuesday's final in Barcelona and punched the water repeatedly with delight when her record was confirmed. "The world record means more than the gold medal, I've achieved my main target," she said.
She broke the four-year-old mark of 1min 04.45secs, set by Jessica Hardy of the USA during the era when the high-tech swim suits were legal and the petite Lithuanian burst into tears as her achievement sank in.
Meilutyte faces Hardy in Tuesday's final and the Lithuanian said adding world gold to her Olympic title would be the stuff of daydreams. "The world record was always a dream for me, but yes, obviously a gold medal at the world championships would be like the cherry on top of the ice cream," said the teenager.
Cielo wins 50m gold
Brazil's Cesar Cielo retained his world title in the men's 50m butterfly on Monday with Eugene Godsoe of the USA second and France's Frederick Bousquet third. Cielo clocked 23.01secs with Godsoe just four hundreths of a second behind and Bousquet at 0.10 of a second behind.