WRITTEN BY SHARON ROBB
December 19, 2010
Ryan Lochte ended a truly remarkable year with even higher hopes for the future.
The hottest swimmer in the world in 2010, may not have broken another world record on Sunday but added three more gold medals to his already Herculean efforts on the final day of the FINA Short Course World Championships in Dubai.
The 26-year-old Floridian was the most talked about swimmer during the five-day meet and rightfully so.
Lochte finished with seven medals: five individual golds, one relay gold and one relay silver and two world records. He missed an eighth medal when the U.S. finished fourth in the 400 freestyle relay on opening night.
Lochte broke the all-time record for medals won at three short course world championships with a total of 21, four more than previous record holder Therese Alshammar of Sweden with 17.
Buoyed by Lochte, who lives and trains in Gainesville, Team USA finished with 25 total medals, 12 gold, 6 silver and 7 bronze. China had 14 (3 gold, 5 silver, 6 bronze) and the Aussies had 11 (1 gold, 7 silver, 3 bronze). Russia had 10 medals (4 gold, 4 silver, 2 bronze).
Lochte started his ambitious night on Sunday flirting with another world record but settled for the meet record in the 200-meter backstroke in 1:46.68, 2.41 ahead of U.S. teammate Tyler Clary who took silver in 1:49.09 and Austrian Markus Rogan took bronze in 1:49.96.
Lochte also broke his own American record of 1:47.91 he set in 2008. Lochte is one of only two swimmers to crack 1:47.
Fighting off fatigue, the Floridian won the 100-meter individual medley in 50.86. Germany’s Markus Deibler took silver in 51.69 and Russian Sergey Fesikov took bronze in 51.81.
Trinidad and Tobago’s George Bovell just missed a medal finishing fourth in 51.97, which lowered his own national record.
“I messed up a couple turns,” Lochte said referring to the 100 IM. “I just went for it.
“I felt it a lot in my legs after the 200 back, but it’s around the time I went in semis so I’ll take it. I think I could have gone a lot faster in the 200 back. I gave it my best shot.”
Lochte, a member of the winning 4×100-meter relay along with teammates Nicholas Thoman, Michael Alexandrov and Garrett Weber-Gale, gave the U.S. the lead on his third leg as the U.S. went on to win in a meet and ratified American record 3:20.99, just 0.62 ahead of the Russians in 3:21.61 and 2.13 ahead of Brazil with Cielo swimming anchor leg.
It was the only relay the usually dominant U.S. team won in the men’s and women’s competition.
SOFLO’s Alia Atkinson, representing Jamaica, made her second championship final and finished eighth in the 200-meter breaststroke in 2:25.49. She also made the 50-meter breaststroke final becoming the first Jamaican swimmer to make the championship final of the world short course meet.
American Rebecca Soni remains the swimmer to beat in the breaststroke after winning the 200-meter breaststroke in a meet record 2:16.39 setting herself up as a favorite for the long course worlds in Shanghai this summer. China’s Ye Sun took silver in 2:18.09 and Denmark’s Moller Rikke Pedersen took bronze in 2:18.82.
Tunisia’s Ous Mellouli, despite swimming in the slow heat because of paperwork glitch, won the 1500-meter freestyle in 14:24.16. No one was able to overtake his time in the faster heat. Denmark’s Mads Glaesner took silver in 15:29.52 and Hungary’s Gergely Gyurta took bronze in 14:31.47.
In other championship finals:
Brazil’s Cesar Cielo swept the sprint events by winning the 100-meter freestyle in a meet record 45.74 adding to his 50-meter title Friday and duplicating his feat at last year’s long course worlds in Rome. France’s Fabien Gilot was second in 45.97 and Russian Nikita Lobintsev was third in 46.35. American Nathan Adrian finished a disappointing sixth in 46.44.
“It was harder than I expected,” Cielo said. “I thought I was going to be faster but a gold is always a gold.”
China continues to look impressive with Jing Zhao winning the women’s 50-meter backstroke in a meet record 26.27. Aussie Rachel Goh took silver in 26.54 and Spain’s Mercedes Peris Minguet took bronze in 26.80.
Australia’s Felicity Galvez won gold in the 100-meter butterfly in a meet record 55.43. It was the Aussies first gold of the five-day meet. Australia had not gone without gold at a short or long course meet since 1986. The Aussies did not bring several of their top swimmers after a busy summer that includes Pan Pacs in California. Sweden’s Therese Alshammar was second in 55.73 and American Dana Vollmer was third in 56.25.
Brazil’s Felipe Silva won the 50-meter breaststroke in a meet record 25.95. South Africa’s Cameron Van Der Burgh took silver in 26.03 and Norway’s Aleksander Hetland took bronze in 26.29.
American Jessica Hardy was shut out in the 50-meter freestyle. The Netherlands’ Ranomi Kromowidjojo (23.37) and Hinkelien Schreuder (23.81) finished 1-2 in the sprint event. Bahamians Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace took bronze in 24.04. Hardy finished fourth in 24.09. Kromowidjojo also completed a sweep after winning the 100 freestyle. She finished with three golds including a victory in the 400 freestyle relay.
South Africa’s Chad Le Clos won the 200-meter butterfly in 1:51.56. Brazil’s Kaio Almeida took silver in 1:51.61 and Hungary’s Laszlo Cseh took bronze in 1:51.67.
France’s Camille Muffat won the 200-meter freestyle in a meet record 1:52.29. American Katie Hoff was second in 1:52.91 and Aussie Kylie Palmer was third in 1:52.96.
Attendance was disappointing throughout the week at the multi-million complex particularly on the final day when none of the swim teams remained to watch the closing ceremony or flag exchanging ceremonies. Less than a 100 watched the closing in the 15,000-seat arena.
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.