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Steffen Sets 100-Meter Swim Record

August 2, 2006

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP)_ Germany’s Britta Steffen set a world record in the women’s 100-meter freestyle at the European Swimming Championships on Wednesday, finishing in 53.30 seconds.

She broke the mark of 53.42 by Australia’s Lisbeth Lenton, set at the Commonwealth Games trials on Jan. 31 in Melbourne, Australia.

Steffen looked at the time on the screen above the pool and almost started to cry. She then took off her cap, her look turning to one of astonishment.

``I can’t believe it. It’s like when you lose and you can’t believe it, either,″ Steffen said. ``I still can’t believe I set a new world record.″

On Monday, Steffen was part of the German team that broke the world record in the women’s 400 freestyle relay.

In the 100, Steffen was 0.11 seconds off the previous record at the 50-meter mark, but held up strongly on the second and final lap to break the record by 0.12.

Her previous best time was 54.29, a national record set in June at the German championships. But she was relatively unknown on the international stage.

The 22-year-old swimmer’s best previous placing was 15th in the 50 freestyle at the 2002 Europeans. Steffen, however, gave an indication Monday of her potential when she swam her leg in the record-breaking relay in 52.66, the fastest ever.

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