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World record chase is back in London
Liam Fitzgibbon
18:30 AEST Thu Jul 26 2012

Welcome back to reality.

The dark days of swimming's supersuit era are long gone and the chase for the red world record line is back on in London.

And unlike at the 2009 world championships in Rome and, to some extent, the 2008 Beijing Games, this time it's a fair contest.

The banning of controversial polyurethane suits at the start of 2010 unsurprisingly led to a world record drought as times dropped swiftly with a return to textile suits.

But at last year's world titles in Shanghai, swimmers started to catch up.

There two new marks were set, as US superstar Ryan Lochte broke the 200m medley record and China's Sun Yang took down Grant Hackett's long standing 1500m mark.

Many are predicting several more will fall in London, and, thankfully, the focus will be on the swims not the suits.

"We're back to reality now," Australian head coach Leigh Nugent said.

"In 2009 when all those world records (43) went at the world championships .... it was disheartening.

"The great athletes who held the world records in legitimate suits were discredited and the people who were breaking the records were being discredited because all the credit was being giving to the suit."

Lochte and fellow Americans Michael Phelps and teenager Missy Franklin are expected to lead the chase for world records in London while Australian James Magnussen is trying to become the first man to better a sprint record post-2009 in the 100m freestyle.

Such was the effect of the high-tech swimsuits in the 50 and 100m events, some predicted they could take decades to be broken after the ban.

Only two years ago, Australian sprinter Eamon Sullivan warned spectators would have to get used to focusing on duels between swimmers rather than expecting world records to be threatened.

But Magnussen's remarkable 47.10-second swim a the national titles in March suggests Cesar Cielo's 2009 world record record of 46.91 is under serious threat.

While swimming's credibility took a serious hit with the suits controversy the talent of Magnussen, Phelps, Lochte, Yang and Co, has meant the red line is back and London could be in for a treat.

"Now that we're back to reality you have a world championships or Olympics and you might see at a really good meet where maybe five or six records go," Nugent said.

"If we can get that here at this meet it would be absolutely sensational."

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