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Hoogenband can break world record

August 17, 2004 21:18 IST

Pieter van den Hoogenband's coach thinks the Dutch sprinter could lower his own world record to win the 100 metres freestyle gold medal at the Athens Olympics this week.

Van den Hoogenband set the current world record of 47.84 seconds in the semi-finals at the Sydney 2000 Olympics but all the signs suggest he may go even faster in Athens.

"I think he is ready to approach or even better his own world record," coach Jacco Verhaeren told Reuters. "He's in the right shape and he's swimming better now than in Sydney."

Van den Hoogenband, who stopped the clock at 48.70 to set the fastest qualifying time in Tuesday's 100 heats despite easing up in the final stages, showed earlier in the week he can go a lot quicker.

In the anchor leg of the 4x100 freestyle relay final on Saturday, van den Hoogenband flashed home in 46.79 -- just 0.07 off the fastest split time ever recorded -- to help the Dutch win silver.

Only times swum by the lead-off swimmer in relays can count as world records because the rest have flying starts but Verhaeren said he was encouraged by what he saw.

"Breaking the world record depends on many things, but really, the most important thing here is to win the gold medal," he said.

"There is a lot of pressure and excitement in the Olympic final so that will decide the time."

Van den Hoogenband won the 100-200 double in Sydney. He finished second behind Ian Thorpe in the 200 in Athens but swam a faster time than when he won in Sydney.

Athens 2004: The Complete Coverage

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