WRITTEN BY SHARON ROBB
December 16, 2010
After the high-tech bodysuits were banned at the beginning of the year, swimming experts said a world record would not be broken in 2010.
Floridian Ryan Lochte proved them wrong by becoming the first individual to break a world record in a textile suit on Day Two of the FINA World Short Course Championships on Thursday in Dubai.
Lochte, 26, who trains and lives in Gainesville, won the 400-meter individual medley in 3:55.50, shaving nearly two seconds off the previous mark set by Laszlo Cseh of Hungary last December.
Tunisia’s Olympic 1500-meter champion Ous Mellouli took the silver in 3:57.40 and Team USA’s Tyler Clary took bronze in 3:57.56.
Lochte has now won the 400 IM titles at the 2006, 2008 and 2010 world championships. Brazil’s Olympic 50-meter freestyle champion Cesar Cielo predicted Lochte would break the world record in the 200 IM on Friday.
“I wasn’t really expecting that (world record),” Lochte said after the race. “I was going out there, racing the field. I had no idea where I was during the race. I’m really happy, it was a world record and you have to be happy with that.”
Lochte was also part of the second record-breaking race of the night but was forced to settle for the silver medal in the 4×200-meter freestyle relay.
The Russians knocked off the Americans in the men’s relay in 6:49.04 with Nikita Lobintsev (1:42.10), Danila Izotov (1:42.15), Evgeny Lagunov (1:42.32) and Alexander Sukhorukov (1:42.47). The previous world record was 6:51.05 set by Canada last December.
The American team of Peter Vanderkaay, Lochte, Garrett Weber-Gale and Richard Berens was second, also under the world record in 6:49.58. France took bronze in 6:53.05.
“We are really happy with this victory and we would like this tradition to continue, Russia beating USA,” Lagunov said. “We really wanted to beat the U.S. team and we were happy to do it. We were very confident that we could do it.”
In two days, three world records have been broken. China broke the first world record in the 4×200-meter freestyle relay Wednesday night.
After two days, the U.S. had four gold, one silver and two bronze medals. Russia has three gold and two silver medals.
Team USA is having mixed results. Nathan Adrian, the No. 1 sprinter in the U.S., failed to final in the 50-meter freestyle, his best event and Mike Alexandrov didn’t medal in the 100-meter breaststroke, an event he was favored to win.
The rubberized bodysuits turned swimming upside down the past two years. Of the 32 current long course world records, all but four were set in 2009. In the 25-meter pool, all but 10 of the 42 world records were set in 2009. At the last short course meet in Manchester, England, 18 world records were broken.
The staggering record-breaking prompted FINA, the sport’s international governing body, to ban the buoyant suit. Men now wear jammers covering the waist only to the knees and women’s suits are now sleeveless and not extended beyond the knees.
In other championship finals:
American Rebecca Soni won the 50-meter breaststroke in 29.83, 0.01 seconds head of Commonwealth Games champion Leiston Pickett of Australia and China’s Zhao Jin. SOFLO’s Alia Atkinson of Jamaica was sixth in 30.22, in the first of four events she is entered.
Teammate and Olympian Natalie Coughlin won the 100-meter backstroke in a meet record 56.08, her best time in a textile suit. China’s Zhao Jing (56.18) and Gao Chang (56.21) finished second and third respectively. “I just tried to keep the momentum going and to be fearless in the race,” Coughlin said. “Tonight I had no hesitation.”
Russian Stanislav Donets just missed the world record but broke the meet record in the 100-meter backstroke in 49.07. Camille Lacourt of France took the silver 49.80 after nearly being disqualified and Aschwin Wildeboer of Spain took the bronze in 50.04. World record holder Nick Thoman was fourth in 50.38.
South African Cameron van der Burgh won the 100-meter breaststroke in a championship record 56.80 holding off Italian Fabio Scozzoli (57.13) and Brazil’s Felipe Silva (57.39). SOFLO’s Vlad Polyakov of Kazakhstan was seventh in 58.66. “This is a great way to wrap up the season,” van der Burgh said. “It’s been a long but a great season and fantastic to at least defend my title.”
Russian world record holder and No. 1-ranked Evgeny Korotyshkin won the 100-meter butterfly in 50.23. Venezuela’s Albert Subirats was second in 50.24 and Kaio Almeida of Brazil was third in 50.33. No American made the final.
Spain’s Erika Villaecija won the gold medal in the 800-meter freestyle in 8:11.61, fourth best textile suit time ever, and teammate Mireia Belmonte took silver in 8:11.61. American Kate Ziegler was third in 8:12.84.
Steve Lochte, the father of Olympian champion Ryan Lochte, has decided not to return to his job as head swimming coach at Daytona Beach State College after his controversial suspension, according to the Daytona Beach News Journal.
Lochte, who was hired in 2008, was offered re-assignment within the college that would have removed him from his coaching position by college officials, but chose to resign instead.
Lochte and his daughter, Kristin, have been on paid leave of absence since an international investigation started in October.
Administrators had received reports about lack of supervision, drug use, poor grades and other details concerning the team. Many of the swimmers and parents rallied around the Lochtes who were concerned about their reputations being tarnished in the sport.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com.