Rome 2009, Day 4:
Women's 200m butterfly
Here we go again: another nail in the coffin - WR No16 of the champs. It's 10.30am and the circus rolls on. Mary Descenza (USA), chasing down Jess Schipper (AUS), clocked a world record of 2:04.14 in the heats of the 200m butterfly. Schipper went through in 58.51, presumably to try out her legs and see what happens when you blast history away in a Hydrofoil. As she eased back on the way home, Descenza saw her target, chased it down, passed it and bagged a rabbit that left the hat in February 2008.
So, here's the thing with suits: Mary D came to these championships never having been close to Mary T. The legend clocked a 2:05.96 back on a balmy night in Brown Deer in 1981. Descenza came to Rome hardly expecting to conquer: 2:07.13 from US trials was her best. She and her shiny suit clocked 2:04.14 on a sizzling summer morning at the Foro Italico - and the ripple and roar of laughter, followed by "that's ridiculous" echoed out from the gathered media.
Some coaches in the US have told their women to fatten up a little in the past year because the suits favour the heavier mass. Roll on the bearded lady. Yes, you, the midget at the back, step up, your public awaits you. Clowns? All ready? Has anyone fed the lions this morning? No? Go find me an Olympic champion. Make it two.
Meanwhile, poor Mary in her Jaked01 (the name to blame blacked out with a marker pen) said: "I didn't think I would go that fast. It was a big surprise, an awesome surprise." She didn't make the Olympic Games last year. Now she's a world record holder three seconds inside her previous best time over four laps of the baths.
Yes, we're sure she's been working hard. She seems like a lovely girl. She's had a long career: five world champs and no medals.
Nothing personal, but what a mockery this is making of a sport that once had a Mary T to look up to. FINA - hang your heads.
Some are calling this a circus maximus. This morning it feels more like a gluteus maximus. Corporate cushions at the ready.
Some stats to follow soon.