( AFP )- Australian Eamon Sullivan broke the world record in the men's 50m freestyle at the New South Wales swimming championships here on Sunday.
Sullivan clocked 21.56 seconds to eclipse Russian Alexander Popov's 2000 mark of 21.64 sec by 0.08 seconds.
Sullivan, who claimed bronze in the 100m freestyle at last year's world championships, shaved almost half a second off his personal best time in establishing the record.
"I just surprised myself," he said. "I felt really, really good in the warm-up and working towards getting under 22 for the first time.
"I really don't know (how that happened).
"We have made some big gains in the gym and I knew if I put bits of my best race together we would be in for a shot at the 22. To take that much off my PB is amazing."
Having made the team for the 2004 Athens Olympics, the 22-year-old struggled to shake off a series of injuries before his breakthrough meet at the national championships 14 months ago.
He captured the 50m national record at that meet in Brisbane before reinforcing his growing status as a quality sprinter by collecting bronze at last year's world championships in Melbourne in the 100m and fifth in the 50m.
It was the first swimming world record by an Australian male swimmer in an Olympic event since Ian Thorpe in the 400m freestyle at the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games.
"It will be good for me to have another outlook where people are worried about me," Sullivan said.
"It will be interesting and I will have to have a chat with a lot of people and work out my game plan because instead of me targeting people, other people will be targeting me."
The 50m event was introduced into the Olympic programme at Seoul in 1988 and Australia is yet have a title holder in the one-lap event.