Lochte sets 1st world record since suit ban
Published: Thursday, July 28, 2011 at 8:15 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, July 28, 2011 at 8:15 a.m.
SHANGHAI — Ryan Lochte has not only beaten Michael Phelps in consecutive races, he has taken swimming to record-setting levels.
The laid back American edged Phelps for gold in the 200-meter individual medley at the world championships on Thursday, setting swimming's first world record since high-tech body suits were banned last year.
With Phelps putting pressure on in the final freestyle lap, Lochte sprinted to the wall and touched in 1 minute, 54.00 seconds to improve on his record mark of 1:54.10 set at the last worlds in Rome two years ago when polyurethane suits were still in use.
"All I can say is summed up in one word — Jeah!" Lochte said, using his signature phrase. "I knew it was going to be a battle between Michael and I. I got the better end this time."
Phelps settled for silver in 1:54.16, and Laszlo Cseh of Hungary took bronze in 1:57.69.
"That one frustrated me more than anything," Phelps said. "I thought I was going to get that one."
Cseh took silver between Phelps and Lochte in both the 200 and 400 IMs at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, giving him a firsthand look at how Lochte has gained the upper hand.
"I think without Michael, he can't beat the world record," Cseh said. "He needs Michael to swim together and race against each other, and I think this is a good thing."
Lochte also beat Phelps in the 200 freestyle in the opening individual event for both American swimmers on Tuesday. Lochte has two more events, compared to one for Phelps, but they won't go head-to-head again.
Phelps, who came into this meet with only six months of training, reached out and shook hands with Lochte at the finish.
"He's really done all the little small things right," Phelps said. "He has more comfortable speed now than he had before. He's super focused. He's just more prepared. Things are always won by people who are most prepared. ... To go faster than he did in 2009 is incredible."
Lochte also set two world records at the short-course worlds in Dubai in December, the only other individual marks set over the last 19 months, although swimming prefers to measure itself in the 50-meter, Olympic-sized pool.
A record 43 marks fell at the 2009 worlds, and with only three days remaining, it looked as though this meet might end without a record set. But Lochte changed that, and even produced an uncharacteristic celebration, pumping his fist and waving to the crowd when he emerged from the pool as colored lights flashed inside the Oriental Sports Center.
"Anytime you break a world record, you got to be excited," Lochte said. "I trained hard and it paid off."
Budding Australian standout James Magnussen then won the 100 freestyle, swimming's signature event. Already dubbed the "The Missile" by Australian media, the 20-year old Magnussen took the lead from Cesar Cielo after 50 meters and touched in 47.63 seconds.
Brent Hayden of Canada took silver in 47.95, and William Meynard of France grabbed the bronze in 48.00. Cielo, who was cleared of doping last week by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, finished fourth. Nathan Adrian of the United States was sixth.
Competing in his first world meet, Magnussen created a buzz with his sizzling opening split of 47.49 against Phelps in the 4x100 relay on the meet's opening night Sunday, setting up Australia for gold.
"It means the world, and I know it means a lot to Australian swimming, as well," Magnussen said. "First person to win that event at a world championships from Australia, which is a pretty big deal. I think it puts men's sprinting in Australia back in the spotlight."
The women's 200 fly was won by Jiao Lliuyang of China in 2:05.55, with Ellen Gandy of Britain second and Liu Zige of China, the defending champion and world record holder, third. Jiao took silver behind Liu at the Beijing Olympics.
In a non-Olympic event, Anastasia Zueva of Russia won the women's 50 backstroke in 27.79, with Aya Terakawa of Japan second and 16-year-old Missy Franklin of the United States third.
Just 50 minutes after his record swim, Lochte was back in the water for the 200 back semifinals, which he led in 1:55.65.