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US swimmer rips world record

Kathleen Baker (Harry How/Getty Images/AFP)

Kathleen Baker (Harry How/Getty Images/AFP)

IRVINE, United States (AFP) – Kathleen Baker sliced more than half a second off her personal best to win the women’s 100m backstroke at the US swimming championships in a world record of 58.00sec on Saturday.

Baker had been gunning for the Kylie Masse’s world record of 58.10 ever since she finished runner-up to the Canadian at the World Championships in Budapest last year.

That was another silver medal performance for Rio Olympics runner-up Baker, and just more motivation for a swimmer who now has her sights set on breaking through the 58-second barrier.

‘‘I put a goal on my phone so it reminds me every day and right now it’s a 58.10,’’ Baker said. ‘‘I just broke that, so now I’m going to put 57.99 down.’’

Baker, who shared 200m backstroke gold with 16-year-old Regan Smith this week, led a podium that featured three women under 59 seconds with 50m back winner Olivia Smoliga second in 58.75 and Smith third in 58.83.

Hers was the first world record of the five-day championships, which serve as a qualifier for both the Pan Pacific Championships next month in Tokyo and the World

Championships in South Korea next year.

Baker said she fed off the energy of Katie Ledecky – who stirred up the crowd as she briefly pushed world record pace on the way to a 400m freestyle victory in 3:59.09.

But it took her a moment to realize what she’d accomplished.

‘‘I was looking to see if I won first, and then I realized I went 58.0 and I was shook,’’ she said. ‘‘I was like ‘Oh my gosh I just broke a world record!’’’

While there was no world record for Ledecky, her distance dominance was on full display as she shredded 400m field.