After releasing a rare race video from the 2001 World Championships on Thursday, FINA has continued to upload old footage to its YouTube channel, this time posting Cameron van der Burgh‘s world record and gold medal performance in the men’s 50 breaststroke at the 2009 World Championships.
van der Burgh had made a successful Worlds debut two years prior in Melbourne, winning bronze in the 50 breast behind veterans Oleg Lisogor and Brendan Hansen. The South African then placed 10th in the 100 breast at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, and the following November, set three world records over a span of four days, becoming the first man sub-26 and sub-57 in the SCM 50 and 100 breast, respectively.
It was in April of 2009 when van der Burgh, now 31, broke a long course world record for the first time in his career, knocking off Lisogor’s 2002 mark of 27.18 in 27.06 at the South African Championships.
That record would only last three weeks, however, as Brazilian Felipe Franca became the first man sub-27 at the Maria Lenk Trophy in 26.89.
That led the two of them into the 2009 World Championships, a meet that will be forever remembered for having a staggering 43 world records broken due to the now-illegal “super-suits.”
van der Burgh set a new Championship Record in the heats, cracking 27 seconds in a time of 26.92 for the top seed, and then reclaimed the world record in the semis in 26.74. German Hendrik Feldwehr also went under the old mark in 26.83, and Franca was lurking close behind in 26.92.
In the final, van der Burgh topped the fastest field in history (at the time), lowering his world record down to 26.67 with Franca second in 26.76. Five men went sub-27 in the final, something that wouldn’t happen again until 2017. At the following World Championships in 2011, the gold medal-winning time was 27.01.
Watch the race video, courtesy of FINA, below.
The 2012 Olympic champion in the 100 breast, van der Burgh would set the LC 50 world record one more time during his career, tying Adam Peaty‘s 26.62 in the heats at the 2015 World Championships. van der Burgh would go on to set his personal best time at the 2017 World Championships, clocking 26.54 in the prelims before claiming bronze in the final.
Incredibly, his world record performance from Rome doesn’t even rank in the top-25 swims of all-time. All of the top-25 performances come from 2015 or later, with current record-holder Peaty owning 18 of them.
van der Burgh holds the 23rd and 25th fastest swims ever and ranks fourth on the all-time performers list.
After winning two golds at the 2018 Short Course World Championships, the three-time Olympian announced his retirement from swimming.
In late March the Pretoria native announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19, but said he was back to 100% on April 5.