Riddle: When is a time of 21.55 better than a time of 20.91?
Cesar Cielo’s world-record time of 20.91 seconds, set last December, makes him the fastest 50-freestyler in history. Right? Not necessarily. That time was swum in a polyurethane super-suit.
Prior to February 2008, the month that effectively serves as Armageddon for swimming World Records, the legendary Alexander Popov of Russia held the 50 LCM World Record for almost 7 years. His mark of 21.64, set at the 2000 Russian Olympic trials, was broken several times between 2008 and now, as have most records.
But his mark still stood as the fastest time ever swum in a textile suit. Until last week at the Paris Open. That is where Cesar Cielo reaffirmed his position as the greatest sprinter in history by breaking Popov’s old mark in 21.55 seconds.
Was Cielo’s swim an official record? No, and at least for the time being won’t appear in any FINA record books. But for many, it was the affirmation they needed to truly declare Cielo the greatest sprinter ever.
According to Swimnews.com, Cielo became the 10th swimmer to break a pre-February-2008 record this year.