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Annamay Pierse (L) of Canada, Mirna Jukic of Austria and Nadja Higl (R) of Serbia start in the women's 200m breaststroke swimming final at the World Championships in Rome July 31, 2009. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay (ITALY SPORT SWIMMING)
Annamay Pierse (L) of Canada, Mirna Jukic of Austria and Nadja Higl (R) of Serbia start in the women's 200m breaststroke swimming final at the World Championships in Rome July 31, 2009. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay (ITALY SPORT SWIMMING)

Pierse propels herself to silver Add to ...

The date is set for the banning of the suits but that's of little concern to Annamay Pierse.

The 25-year-old Vancouver resident has her world record and now she has a silver medal from the world aquatics championships in Rome. And if anyone wants to quibble with her showing in the women's 200-metre breaststroke event, Pierse has already perfected her response.

"There has been so much about the swimsuits. But every single person is wearing some kind of [polyurethane]suit and the best person is still coming out on top," Pierse explained. "I've trained so hard for this. It was me who did this, not the suit."

Pierse followed up her world-record swim in Thursday's 200 breast semi-finals with a slower yet disciplined effort in yesterday's final. American rival Rebecca Soni hit the water like a startled dolphin and sped away from the crowd. Pierse, who was fifth to Soni's first in the 100 breast, chose to not panic or flail after her foe. Instead, Pierse stuck to her pre-race game plan.

"I knew [Soni]was probably going to go out for it. I've raced her a lot and I kind of learned a little bit about her strategy," said Pierse who, for the record, wore a soon-to-be-shelved Jaked suit. "I said, 'Stay in your own lane, do your own thing.' Maybe for a split-second I thought about [chasing Soni]but then I got back into my own race."

While Soni did tire, Pierse wasn't able to catch Serbia's Nadja Higl, who took the gold in a time of 2 minutes 21.62 seconds. Pierse was second at 2:21.84, well off her world record clocking of 2:20.12. Austria's Mirna Jukic was third.

Pierse's medal is the second Canada has won at these world championships. Days ago, Victoria's Ryan Cochrane earned bronze in the 800 freestyle and is considered a medal possibility in this weekend's 1,500 freestyle.

Winning medals is what counts, insisted Pierse. "A world record is only someone's best time so that can always be taken away from you," Pierse said of her accomplishment. "A silver medal from the worlds can't, and I'm really proud of that."

Pierse's world mark, like many of the 35 set in Rome with two days of competition remaining, may actually stand up for some time. Prior to yesterday's finals, FINA, the sports ruling body, announced that the current suits being used by almost every competitor would be outlawed come Jan. 1, 2010.

FINA agreed last week to scrap the new full-body, high-tech suits after much criticism from within the swim community only to say it could take until April or May to make it happen. That crawled under the skin of Bob Bowman, the American coach for Olympic legend Michael Phelps. Bowman said he'd hold Phelps out of every international meet until the current suits were ruled illegal.

Faced with losing its biggest star, FINA agreed to lay down the law on Jan. 1.

With that settled, Phelps took to the pool yesterday in the semi-finals of the 100 butterfly. He qualified for the final with the second-best time but was easily bested by Serbia's Milorad Cavic, who splashed down a world record 50.01 seconds.

Phelps and Cavic meet tonight in the finals of the 100 fly in what will be an intense replay of their Olympic showdown from 11 months ago. In Beijing's Water Cube, Cavic lost by the thinnest of margins (1/100th of a second) prompting much debate over which swimmer actually touched the wall first. The official time-keeping mechanisms indicated Phelps, who was handed the seventh of his eight gold medals.

For the rematch, Cavic will be wearing a state-of-the-water Arena X-Glide suit while Phelps is likely to stay with the Speedo LZR he wore in China.

Phelps lost his first major international race in four years earlier this week when he was beaten by Germany's Paul Biedermann in the 200 freestyle. Phelps was a body-length behind Biedermann, who dropped almost a second off Phelps' world record in the event.

Aside from Pierse's result, Canada's best showing on Day 6 at the worlds was Toronto's Martha McCabe placing seventh in the 200 breast. As for Brent Hayden, the 2007 world champion in the 100 freestyle, he failed to qualify for the finals of the 50 free.

Vancouver's Lauren Lavigna established a Canadian record in the women's 200 backstroke preliminary heats but didn't advance out of the semi-finals.

 

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