Switzerland's Flavia Rigamonti has become only the third Swiss woman to win a medal at the world swimming championships. She came second in the finals of the women's 1,500 metre freestyle in Fukuoka, Japan, smashing her own national record by over 20 seconds.
The Ticino swimmer, who finished in 16 minutes 5.99 seconds, came in second behind Germany's Hannah Stockbauer, who took the gold with a time of 16 minutes 1.02 seconds. The United States' Diana Munz finished third in 16 minutes, 7.05 seconds.
The first part of the race developed into a duel between Stockbauer and Munz, but the German swimmer pulled away after 900 metres to take her second gold medal of the championships.
Rigamonti paced herself superbly and came on strongly in the second half of the race, passing the tiring Munz in the last 200 metres. The Swiss athlete knocked 22 seconds off her own national record in the process.
"It was a hard race for me but I left my fears behind after I passed Diana," Rigamonti said. "It is a big surprise to win the first medal here for Switzerland, and it's a great start to the lead up to the 2004 Olympics," she added.
On Monday, Rigamonti finished fifth in her favourite event, the 800-metre freestyle race, which Stockbauer won.
Besides Rigamonti, only two other Swiss swimmers have won a world championship medal. Both were won in Madrid in 1986 where Dano Halsall and Marie-Thérèse Armentero came home second and third respectively in the 50-metre freestyle competition.
swissinfo with agencies