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New Zealand's campaign ended on the ultimate high when butterfly maestro Moss Burmester won gold at the world short course swimming championships in Manchester this morning (NZ time).

A second medal went to the New Zealand 4x100m medley relay team, who held off Australia for a place on the podium.

Burmester showed he must be rated as a medal prospect at the Beijing Olympic Games, leading the 200 metre event from the start to win in a stunning time less than half a second outside the world record.

He powered out a blistering first 50m of 25.15sec and slowly pulled away from the field to win in one minute 51.05 seconds.

It was easily a New Zealand and world short course championship record and was just 0.32sec outside the world record of French swimmer Franck Esposito, who set his mark six years ago.

Third-placed Pole Pawel Korzeniowski and American swimmer Nicholas Walkotten tried to stay on the New Zealander's pace but faded late.

The only realistic challenge came from highly-rated Russian Nikolay Skvortsov who finished strongly but even he was 0.78sec behind Burmester, who only faded slightly over the final 50m.

It was a remarkable step up from Burmester's morning qualifying effort, where he was sixth fastest in 1min 54.46sec.

That was 1.25sec slower than top qualifier Skvortsov and if he had been 0.47sec slower, Burmester would have missed the final completely.

Burmester became the first New Zealand swimmer to win an individual gold medal at the world short course championships.

"It's a pretty awesome feeling to stand on top of the podium at a world championship and hear the New Zealand anthem," Burmester said.

"We thought it was within reach. The competition here was tough and in the end I won by a bit more than I thought I would."

New Zealand has only won one gold medal at the world short course championships before, to a men's relay team in 1995, along with seven silver medals, three of them to Trent Bray, and two bronze medals.

The field today was missing American superstar Michael Phelps and top Chinese prospect Wu Peng but Burmester's performance will still provide an Olympic-size confidence boost to the 26-year-old from Otumoetai in the Bay of Plenty.

The relay team of Daniel Bell (backstroke), Glenn Snyders (breaststroke), Corney Swanepoel (butterfly) and Cameron Gibson (final) qualified eighth but also improved significantly in the final.

Their national record time of 3min 27.15sec was enough to head off Australia by 0.36sec. The New Zealanders were well behind Russia, who scraped past the United States to win a ding-dong final.

New Zealanders qualified for 11 finals at the championships and 21 n ational records were lowered.

Norfolk led the way making three finals with Burmester two, while Norfolk and Snyders both set four national records.

National coach Jan Cameron was delighted with the team effort and especially Burmester's gold.

"It was absolutely awesome. Moss was brave and just soared like an eagle. We've instilled in him over the last few years to reach for the sky and he did that today," Cameron said.

"It was a team effort with Thomas Ansorg and myself in the coaching and a fantastic support team around Moss. We are fortunately now to have the backing to put the necessary support in place.

"The relay swim was brilliant, taking eight seconds off the previous New Zealand record is astonishing."

No other New Zealanders were involved in finals this morning.

Melissa Ingram was 10th and Helen Norfolk 11th in the women's 200m freestyle heats while Bell was 15th in the men's 200m backstroke.

-NZPA