ANAPOLIS (Indiana) (AFP) - Mark Gangloff burst through the one-minute barrier in the 100m breaststroke on Tuesday, booking his World Championship berth with a victory in 59.01sec at the US Swimming Championships.
Gangloff's time was the second-fastest ever posted, behind the current world record of 58.91sec owned by Japan's Kosuke Kitajima.
With Beijing Olympic hero Michael Phelps waiting in the wings on the first day of the championships, US swimmers showed they won't be left behind in the race to get the most out of the super-suits linked to a wave of world records already this year.
Gangloff notched his first 100m breaststroke in under a minute in a Jaked, a performance he had been anticipating since long before the advent of the controversial all-polyurethane suit.
"I've been knocking on that barrier for so long - I busted through it," said Gangloff, whose previous best was 1:00.10. "I almost skipped 59."
Gangloff indicated he believed the Jaked offered some advantage, but he said it was hard to say just how much.
"I think it's really hard to quantify," he said. "I think it helps some people more than others."
"It was a wonderful race," added Gangloff, who led at the turn with a split of 27.64sec and finished in front of Eric Shanteau, who notched his second sub-one minute time of the day with a time of 59.45.
Shanteau's heats-leading time of 59.89 had made him just the second American to break one minute in the event after Brendan Hansen. He and Gangloff indicated that despite the absence of Hansen and Kitajima the event won't lack for speed at the World Championships in Rome later this month.
The top two finishers in each event here qualify for Rome.
Tyler Clary, also wearing a Jaked, set a world-record pace through the first two legs of the men's 400m individual medley, before he was overhauled on the breaststroke leg by Ryan Lochte, whose two gold and two bronze medals at the Beijing Games included bronze in the event.
Lochte won in 4:06.40, while Clary was second in 4:06.96 - after bringing a personal best of 4:14.13 into the meet.
Julia Smit, a relay medallist at the Beijing Games, used a strong breaststroke leg to win the women's 200m individual medley in an American record of 2:09.34.
Smit, clad in a Blueseventy suit, eclipsed the national record of 2:09.71 set by Katie Hoff at last year's Olympic trials in Omaha.
Elizabeth Pelton, 15, set a blazing pace through the opening butterfly and backstroke legs, but couldn't hold off Smit and finished second in 2:11.03.
Hoff, who elected not to swim the medleys here, was a disappointing sixth in the 400m freestyle won by Allison Schmitt (4:06.77) ahead of Chloe Sutton (4:07.20).
"She has been struggling. She's still not right," said Hoff's coach Bob Bowman, who also guides Phelps. "She'll try to do better in the 200m.
"She's not there psychologically and physically. The last two weeks, she's been very sick. She had a flu. She stopped coughing 10 days ago. It happens to everybody. She'll learn from it."
Olympic silver medallist Christine Magnuson, punched her ticket to Rome with a victory in the 100m butterfly. Magnuson won in 57.15sec, with Dana Vollmer second in 57.32.
Magnuson couldn't improve on her American record of 57.08, but said Inge de Bruijn's world mark of 56.61 remained a goal - preferably in Rome.
"Why not? It's definitely one of my goals I'm shooting for," she said.
Olympic relay gold medallist Peter Vanderkaay, shut out of the 400m freestyle medals with a fourth-placed finish in Beijing, gave himself a chance to improve on that at worlds with a victory in 3:45.17. Daniel Madwed was second in 3:47.24 - slicing more than three seconds off his personal best.
Phelps, winner of an unprecented eight gold medals in Beijing, was scheduled to launch his four-event programme here on Wednesday, with the 200m freestyle and 200m butterfly. He owns the world record in both.