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DeScenza: No medal, world mark swept away in record flood

July 30, 2009 |  1:52 pm

Jess2 It didn't end well for Mary DeScenza.

In Thursday's 200-meter butterfly final at the World Championships in Rome, the swimmer from Naperville, Ill., not only lost the world record she had set about 32 hours earlier but also failed to win a medal.

DeScenza's fourth-place finish and the record-breaking performance by Australia's Jessicah Schipper further diminished the impact of DeScenza's record swim, which already had been rendered virtually meaningless by the role high-tech swimsuits are playing in the fast times.

There have been 29 world records set at this world meet, almost double the previous record for records at worlds.

In the final, both Schipper (2 minutes, 3.41 seconds) and Olympic champion Liu Zige of China (2:03.90) were wearing the soon-to-be-verboten suits as they went under the mark (2:04.14) that DeScenza had established in Wednesday's prelims. DeScenza's time in the final was 2:04.41.

DeScenza has been in five world meets without winning an individual medal. Her world mark was as ephemeral as a footprint in the sand, washed away by high tide in a sport with chronological credibility at an all-time low.

That has happened because its emperors -- the leaders of the international swimming federation -- have no clothes.

-- Philip Hersh

Photo: Jessicah Schipper of Australia salutes the crowd after setting a world record in the 200 butterfly in her soon-to-be-verboten suit. Credit: Al Bello / Getty Images