Aschwin Wildeboer (ESP) led qualifiers through in the 100m backstroke heats in Rome, his 52.93 a championship record 0.05sec inside what was a world record set by Aaron Peirsol (USA) back in the Dark Ages of Melbourne 2007. Next through was Ryosuke Irie (JPN), one of the most aesthetic and technically precise backstroke swimmers you'd care to meet, on 53 flat.
Olympic champion and world-record holder Peirsol went through joint third this morning on 53.08 alongside Liam Tancock, a double bronze medal winner at the world championships in 2007 and now sporting a fresh shiny suited national record, and Junya Koga (JPN).
So, this is how things compare, as if comparison of chalk with cheese were possible, to Melbourne 2007, where the fastest qualifier from heats, Markus Rogan (AUT), would not have made the top-16 cut in Rome, and where 8th place in heats would have been good enough for 32nd place just two years later. Here's the hideous nature of performance-enhancement at work:
Melbourne 2007 heats:
Rome 2009 heats:
The morning session closed with the heats of the women's 1,500m free. Lotte Friis (DEN), Olympic 800m free bronze medal winner, clocked 15:58.23 to take lane four a touch ahead of Kristel Kobrich (CHI) on 15:58.75. The final will be a close affair, with the rest of the field all through between 16:02 and 16:16.83, the time of 5km open water world champ, Melissa Gorman (AUS).