WRITTEN BY SHARON ROBB
December 15, 2010
Ryan Lochte broke a meet record twice and won his first gold medal at the FINA World Short Course Championships Wednesday in Dubai.
Lochte broke the meet record in the 200-meter freestyle in 1 minute, 42.38 seconds in Wednesday’s heat. It was a full second better than the previous record of 1:43.28 set by retired Australian great Ian Thorpe in 1999.
Lochte came back and broke it again in the final in 1:41.08.
“I just wanted to do a good time,” Lochte told reporters after the race. “Usually, my first race is always the worst so I am glad that’s out of the way.
“It was a good race. I was lucky enough to win this one. This just shows that the rest of the meet is going to be pretty good. I am just going to take each race at a time.”
Lochte finished nearly a full body-length ahead of Russian Danila Izotov, who was second in 1:41.70 and Oussama Mellouli of Tunisia was third in 1:42.02.
Germany’s Paul Biedermann, world record holder in 1:39.37 set in 2009 before the ban on non-textile suits, was fifth in 1:42.19.
“I just don’t know what went wrong,” Biedermann said. “I feel I could have gone faster. I’m going to have to look at my technique.”
Lochte, like his U.S. teammates, wore orange ribbons with the initials FC in memory of Fran Crippen, who died in an open water 10K race on October 23 off the coast of United Arab Emirates.
Lochte, who had hoped to walk away with eight gold medals, wasn’t as fortunate in the 400-meter freestyle relay when the U.S. failed to medal.
The U.S. fell behind early in the relay after Nathan Adrian’s 47.35 opening leg, leaving Lochte too much distance to make up on the anchor leg. Adrian, the top U.S. sprinter, was seventh after the opening relay leg.
The U.S. team of Adrian, Garrett Weber-Gale, Richard Berens and Lochte were fourth behind France that won in 3:04.78 with Alain Bernard, Frederick Bousquet, Fabien Gilot and Yannick Agnel. Russia was second, 0.04 behind and Brazil third, 0.96 back.
On Thursday, Lockte will swim the 400-meter individual medley and 800 free relay. Lochte’s gold was the only medal won by the U.S. on opening day.
SOFLO’s two-time Olympians Alia Atkinson of Jamaica and Vlad Polyakov of Kazakhstan made it to the finals but finished out of the medal hunt.
In her first race of the week-long meet, Atkinson made it through prelims and semifinals before finishing fifth among the 16-swimmer field in the 50-meter breaststroke in 30.19 and sixth in the final in 30.22.
It was the first of four events for Atkinson, who is also entered in the 100- and 200-meter breaststroke and 100-meter individual medley. Atkinson is one of two Jamaicans competing. Victoria Ho, who trains at Lake Lytal in West Palm Beach, is also competing.
Polyakov, second fastest qualifier heat in the 100-meter breaststroke in 57.80, finished seventh in 58.34 and seventh in the final 58.66. SOFLO teammate Leo Andara of Venezuela was 57th in 1:03.53.
China was successful in the 800-meter freestyle relay with the first world record of 2010 without the banned high-tech suit.Chen Qian, Tang Yi, Liu Jjing and Zhu Qianwei broke the record in 7:35.94, lowering the mark by nearly three seconds set two years ago by the Netherlands.
OTHER MEET NEWS
*The five-member Israel team is at the meet with heavy security. The team arrived a day late because of security concerns. United Arab Emirates has no diplomatic relations with Israel. There are seven or eight security agents watching the team at all times.
*FINA awarded the 2014 World Short Course Championships to Catania, Italy. FINA also chose Casablanca, Morocco as host of the 2013 World Junior Swimming Championships.
*FINA also announced the creation of a School for Officials in open water swimming similar to schools already in water polo, diving and synchronized swimming to help screen who is selected to be open water officials. This move came in the wake of Fran Crippen’s senseless death at a FINA open water 10K swim in October.
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.