Thursday, July 30, 2009
Lochte breaks Phelps' record
ESPN.com news services
ROME -- With Michael Phelps cheering from the stands, Ryan Lochte of the United States set a world record in the 200-meter individual medley at the world championships.
Lochte won in 1 minute, 54.10 seconds on Thursday for the 23rd world record of these championships. He broke Phelps' gold-medal time of 1:54.23 from the Beijing Olympics. Phelps skipped this event at the worlds, but he was in the stands with the rest of the American team.
Laszlo Cseh of the Hungary took the silver in 1:55.24, and American Eric Shanteau captured his first major international medal with a bronze in 1:55.36.
Shanteau competed at last year's Olympics after being diagnosed with testicular cancer.
Also Thursday, Brazil's Cesar Cielo became the first swimmer to break 47 seconds in the 100-meter freestyle, setting another world record and holding off France's Alain Bernard.
Cielo won the furious down-and-back race in 46.91 seconds, eclipsing Eamon Sullivan's mark of 47.05 set during the semifinals of the Beijing Olympics.
Bernard won the Olympic gold when he beat Sullivan in the final. He had to settle for silver in Rome at 47.12. Fellow Frenchman Fred Bousquet pushed the pace over the first 50 and held on for bronze in 47.25.
Cielo's record was the 25th of these championships, matching the total from last summer's Olympics with three days still to go.
American backstroke specialist Aaron Peirsol was also scheduled to race on Thrusday. Three days after the Olympic champion failed to qualify for the 100-meter backstroke final, he has a new strategy for Thursday's semifinals in the 200 back.
"It's my only individual swim now. I'll be gunning for it absolutely -- probably more so than usual," Peirsol said after qualifying second in morning heats. "It will be much safer, much safer."
Ryosuke Irie of Japan led the heats in 1 minute, 55.20 seconds and Peirsol clocked 1:55.88 -- well off his world record of 1:53.08 set at the U.S. championships in Indianapolis earlier this month but right up there with the other contenders.
"I've been waiting to get my heart rate up for a while now, so it feels good," Peirsol said.
Lochte qualified third in 1:55.97. Lochte and Peirsol finished 1-2 in this event at last year's Olympics.
Peirsol has one of the new suits from Arena but he made an elementary miscalculation and finished ninth in the 100 back semis, one spot too low to make the final, which he watched from the stands at the Foro Italico.
Peirsol could have taken some consolation from the fact that the winner, Juny Koga of Japan, did not come close to breaking his world record.
"It was hard to swallow, but at the same time I had already moved on, I was already ready for [the 200]," Peirsol said. "I've just never seen a 100 back from the stands at world championships, so I thought it would be good to watch."
Phelps had the day off, his only full day of rest of the championships.
Another American, Amanda Weir, led the women's 100 freestyle heats in 53.20 seconds, while Olympic champion Britta Steffen of Germany was fourth.
Steffen set a new world record of 52.22 seconds on Sunday in the first leg of the 400 freestyle relay.
Championship records were set in both the men's and women's 200 breaststroke heats.
Shanteau, who put off cancer treatment to compete in Beijing, clocked 2:08.55 to eclipse Kosuke Kitajima's six-year-old mark from the 2003 worlds in Barcelona.
Kitajima, who has won this event at the last two Olympics, is taking this year off.
Olympic bronze medalist Hugues Duboscq of France qualified in 11th and Beijing silver medalist Brenton Rickard of Australia barely made it in 16th -- the final qualifying spot.
In the women's heats, Annamay Pierse of Canada touched in 2:21.68, shaving four hundredths off Australian Leisel Jones' mark from the 2005 worlds in Montreal.
Olympic champion and world record holder Rebecca Soni of the United States qualified second in 2:22.09.
The bronze medalist from last year's Beijing Games, Sara Nordenstam of Norway, failed to qualify, finishing nearly six seconds behind Pierse in 22nd.
A third championship record in the session was set by Britain in the women's 800 freestyle relay.
Caitlin McClatchey, Jazmin Carlin, Hannah Miley and Rebecca Adlington posted a time of 7:49.04, improving the Americans' time in Melbourne by about a second.
The United States, which swam in the same heat as Britain, qualified second, while world record-holder and Beijing champion Australia was fifth. Italy, led by freshly crowned 200 and 400 free individual champion Federica Pellegrini in the anchor position, just made it to the final in eighth.