Because of an editing error, an article yesterday on the swimming world record set by Mike Barrowman of Potomac incorrectly listed his event. Barrowman set the record in the 200-meter breaststroke. (Published 1/13/91)

PERTH, AUSTRALIA, JAN. 11 -- Mike Barrowman of Potomac, Md., lowered his world record in the men's 200-meter backstroke at the World Swimming Championships today, making up for a failing that has haunted him for the past two years.

Barrowman lowered his mark in the event to 2 minutes 11.23 seconds. His old record was 2:11.53.

It was a wire-to-wire win, with Barrowman leading the fastest field in the history of the event. The winner attributed the victory to willpower, his coach and to junk food.

He said he felt listless after setting a meet record of 2:13.82 in his morning heat, so he went to a nearby fast-food restaurant for an energy boost. He said he came away refreshed, and the rest is history.

Barrowman has held the world record since Aug. 4, 1989, lowering it three times since then. He was favored to win an Olympic gold medal in 1988, but finished fourth.

"Since September 23, 1988, I have not thought past January 11, 1991," he said. "I am so happy it's over with."

Nick Gillingham of Britain, who shared the world record with Barrowman for about 12 hours before the American lowered it to 2:12.89 in Tokyo on Aug. 20, 1989, took third today behind Norbert Rozsa of Hungary.

The eight finalists all bettered 2:16.41 in the heats, making it the fastest 200 backstroke field ever.

Barrowman, a 22-year-old who competed for the University of Michigan, won one of two gold medals for the United States as swimming resumed after a day of rest.

The U.S. men's 400-meter freestyle relay team of Tom Jager, Brent Lang, Doug Gjertsen and Matt Biondi won in a meet-record 3:17.15.

Biondi, the 100 freestyle gold medalist and world record holder at the distance, swam a 48.27 anchor leg, the sixth-fastest time in history. He now holds the top eight relay-leg times.

Germany finished second in the relay in 3:18.88 and got its first individual gold medal when Joerg Hoffmann won the men's 400 freestyle in a meet-record 3:48.04.

Hoffmann, the 1989 European 1,500 freestyle champion for East Germany, said he felt proud when he stood on the victory stand and was saluted by the old West German anthem, now the anthem of a united nation.

"There is no difference, winning for East Germany or a united Germany," he said.

Chinese swimmers turned in their most impressive performances of the championships with a one-two finish in the women's 100 butterfly. Qian Hong, the 1986 Asian Games champion, won in 59.68 over Wang Xiaohong, the '90 Asian Games winner. Crissy Ahmann-Leighton of the United States was fourth, just .28 seconds behind the winner.

Linley Frame won the women's 100 breaststroke in 1:08.81, giving Australia its second gold in swimming. American record holder Tracey McFarlane, who plans to retire after the meet, was sixth in 1:10.78.

Janet Evans, the world record holder and Olympic champion, led qualifiers in the women's 800 freestyle in 8:33.19, with Julie McDonald of Australia second-fastest by .27 seconds. The 800 freestyle final is set for Saturday night.