ROME — Five world records were set Monday at the world swimming championships.
No surprise there.
Aaron Peirsol failed to make the 100-meter backstroke finals.
Now that's a stunner.
Peirsol, the world record-holder and two-time Olympic champion in the 100 backstroke, was stunningly knocked out in the semifinals by a tenth of a second. He was caught off guard by the quick times that dealt another beating to the record book on the second day of the meet.
"It's just a huge miscalculation," said Peirsol, the three-time defending world champion. "I thought I was in a much better place, but if you're looking straight up you don't see much."
Michael Phelps took no chances in his first individual event.
He breezed through the semifinals of the 200 freestyle but looks to have quite a challenge waiting in today's final. Germany's Paul Biedermann, who already knocked Ian Thorpe out of the record book, was fastest qualifier with a time that was less than a second off Phelps' world record.
A staggering 11 world records have been set at the final major meet for high-tech bodysuits, with six more days still to go. The suits -- some made of 100 percent rubber -- will be banned starting in 2010, but that's not soon enough for purists who say this Roman speed show is nothing more than a sad spectacle ruining the integrity of the sport.
Otherwise, the record breaking carried on at a staggering pace Monday.
Brenton Rickard of Australia won the 100 breaststroke in 58.58 to take down Kosuke Kitajima's mark of 58.91.
Sweden's Sarah Sjostrom broke the record she set a day earlier in the semifinals of the 100 butterfly at 56.06.
Ariana Kukors provided a rare bright spot for the struggling American team in the 200 individual medley, beating Olympic champion Stephanie Rice of Australia in 2:06.15. That was nearly a full second faster than Kukors' record swim in the semis.
Rebecca Soni of the U.S. and Russia's Anastasia Zueva set world records in the semis. Soni's time of 1:04.84 in the 100 breaststroke beat Leisel Jones' three-year-old record of 1:05.09. Zueva won her heat of the 100 back in 58.48, wiping out Kirsty Coventry's mark of 58.77.
Durham Jordan graduate Erika Stewart, representing Colombia, finished 57th out of 113 entrants in the 100 back and was 47th out of 73 in the 200 IM.