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Qin Haiyang breaks world record, gets unprecedented swimming worlds sweep

Qin Haiyang

FUKUOKA, JAPAN - JULY 28: Haiyang Qin of Team China winning gold with a new world record time of WR time 2:05.48 in the Men’s 200m Breaststroke Final on day six of the Fukuoka 2023 World Aquatics Championships at Marine Messe Fukuoka Hall A on July 28, 2023 in Fukuoka, Japan. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

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China’s Qin Haiyang broke the world record in the 200m breaststroke and became the first swimmer to sweep 50m, 100m and 200m titles in any stroke at a single world championships.

Qin, 24, clocked 2 minutes, 5.48 seconds to take 47 hundredths off Australian Zac Stubblety-Cook’s world record from last year and 1.87 seconds off his own personal best.

“There’s a little bit of angel and a little bit of devil inside,” Qin said, according to World Aquatics. “So this afternoon it was kind of a struggle between those two. I told myself, maybe I can lose this race. I’ve already got two gold medals. But before the race, I told myself, when I’m in the pool there is no loser. I don’t want to be a loser. I have to win.”

SWIMMING WORLDS: Results | Broadcast Schedule

At the start of 2017, the world record was 2:07.01. It has since been lowered by five different men.

Stubblety-Cook, the reigning Olympic and world champion, took silver, 92 hundredths behind. American Matt Fallon earned bronze in his first race at a major international meet.

Earlier at these worlds, Qin became the second-fastest man in history in the 50m and 100m breast events. The only faster man in those events is Brit Adam Peaty, who is not at worlds after missing a trials meet citing mental health.

Qin said his dream is to break Peaty’s 100m breast world record of 56.88. Qin’s personal best is 81 hundredths shy of it.

Qin made his Olympic debut in Tokyo, tying for the best time in his 200m breast heat but getting disqualified. He was 22nd in the 200m breast at last year’s worlds, even though he entered the meet with the fifth-best personal best of the field.

Also Friday, the U.S. grabbed silvers in the 200m backstroke (Ryan Murphy), 200m breast (Kate Douglass) and men’s 4x200m freestyle relay.

Hungary’s Hubert Kos overtook Murphy to win the 200m back by 69 hundredths in 1:54.14. Kos trains at Arizona State in a group led by Bob Bowman that also includes world champions Leon Marchand and Regan Smith.

Murphy, 28, earned his seventh career individual world medal and 16th total when including relays. He won the 100m back earlier this week.

Olympic champion Tatjana Schoenmaker held off Douglass by 43 hundredths in the 200m breast to become the first South African woman to win a world swimming title.

Douglass, the world champ in the 200m individual medley, was fourth in the 100m free about 45 minutes before the 200m breast.

In that 100m free, Australian Mollie O’Callaghan, 19, earned her fourth gold of the week, adding to her three world records from the 200m free and a pair of relays. She’s the first woman to win the 100m and 200m free at one worlds.

O’Callaghan clocked 52.16 seconds, overtaking Olympic silver medalist Siobhán Haughey of Hong Kong by 33 hundredths.

At the Tokyo Olympics, O’Callaghan swam strictly on preliminary heat relays as the youngest Australian across all sports. Last year, she won the 100m free and took 200m free silver at worlds. She dislocated a knee while stretching after last month’s trials.

Australia has 10 golds at these worlds, twice as many as second-best China and its most since 2005, when it was dueling the U.S. for swim supremacy.

These are likely to be the first worlds that a country other than the U.S. wins the most golds since Australia did in 2001, though the U.S. has nine more total medals than Australia this week.

Great Britain held off the U.S. in the men’s 4x200m free thanks to a quartet with world 200m free champion Matt Richards, Olympic gold and silver medalists in the 200m free Tom Dean and Duncan Scott and 2015 World 200m free champion James Guy.

Swimming worlds finals continue Saturday at 7 a.m. ET, live on Peacock.

Katie Ledecky goes for a record-extending sixth consecutive 800m free world title and to break her tie with Michael Phelps for the most individual world titles for one swimmer, currently at 15.