Swimming world in disbelief over 'insane' moment: 'That was wild'

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Thomas Ceccon, pictured here breaking the world record in the 100m backstroke at the swimming world championships.
Thomas Ceccon smashed the world record in the 100m backstroke at the swimming world championships. Image: Getty/NBC

Italy's Thomas Ceccon has left the swimming world in disbelief after smashing the 100m backstroke world record on Monday night.

Ceccon shaved a quarter of a second off the previous record as he won in 51.60 seconds at the world championships in Budapest.

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In a lighting fast final, Ceccon edged American star Ryan Murphy for gold, while fellow American Hunter Armstrong was third.

"I didn't expect this time," the 21-year-old Ceccon said after the race.

"I didn't expect to go so fast. Today nobody could beat me. What a sensational time 51.6. It still has to sink in.

"It's fantastic when you can break a world record in any sport, for me it is unbelievable.

"Maybe four athletes have done it in Italy, it's an achievement that means a lot.

"Today the Americans went very fast.

"Today I'm not saying that I knew I was going to win but in my opinion I had no rivals. The two Russians were missing, it would have been an even greater challenge.

“I am feeling good in the water and just doing my race, staying calm and focusing on my race. And that’s it.”

Ryan Murphy, Thomas Ceccon and Hunter Armstrong, pictured here after the men's 100m backstroke final.
Ryan Murphy, Thomas Ceccon and Hunter Armstrong pose with their medals after the men's 100m backstroke final. (Photo by ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP via Getty Images)

A four-time Olympic gold medallist, Murphy set the previous record at the 2016 Games in Rio.

“Hats off to Thomas. That’s a really, really fast time and it’s going to be an exciting couple of years," he said.

Swimming fans and commentators were left in awe.

Italy's golden run at swimming world championships

Ceccon won Italy's second gold medal of the championships after Nicolo Martinenghi took the 100m breaststroke title the night before.

And there was more success for Italy on Monday when 17-year-old Benedetta Pilato won the women's 100m breaststroke in a race in which the three medallists were separated by less than a tenth of a second.

Pilato edged German Anna Elendt by 0.05 seconds and Lithuanian Ruta Meilutyte by 0.09 seconds.

Pilato was delighted after she won the last final of the evening by a fingernail.

"I am super-happy and proud," she said. "It was a dream which came true."

Pilato broke the 50m breaststroke world record in the same Budapest pool a year ago.

Benedetta Pilato, pictured here with her gold medal at the swimming world championships.
Benedetta Pilato poses with her gold medal at the swimming world championships. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

"Before the race I was crying with joy for Thomas who made me relive the sensations I felt when I set the world record and now here I am with gold around my neck. I am overjoyed and satisfied," she said.

Pilato won a silver medal at the world championships in Gwangju three years ago, but missed the podium at the Tokyo Olympics last year.

"I have also overcome the anxiety, and learned to take things calmly," she said.

Also on Monday night, Lani Pallister became the first Australian woman to win a medal in the 1500m freestyle at the world championships.

Going into the meet, the 1500m was the only women's event in which an Australian swimmer had not reached the podium at a world championships.

But Pallister made history on Monday after finishing third behind record-breaking American champion Katie Ledecky, whose gold medal was her record-extending 17th world title and second of this championships.

Pallister pipped compatriot Moesha Johnson to win bronze, while 16-year-old American Katie Grimes was second.

with agencies

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