WRITTEN BY SHARON ROBB
December 18, 2010
While Ryan Lochte flirted with another world record in the 100-meter individual medley semifinals, American Rebecca Soni, Brazilian Cesar Cielo and Spain’s Mireia Belmonte Garcia shared the spotlight on Saturday night at the FINA World Short Course Championships in Dubai.
While Lochte remains the talk of the meet, a few other swimmers got their fifteen minutes of fame on Day Four.
Garcia won her third gold and fourth medal overall breaking the meet record in the 200-meter individual medley in 2:05.73.
“I feel very happy, it was an amazing race,” Garcia said. “This morning I was very tired and felt very nervous but as the afternoon wore on I became more relaxed.
“I can’t believe that I have won four medals, three of them golds. I think it will sink in when I get home.”
Garcia, who swims the 200-meter breaststroke on Sunday, also won gold in the 400-meter individual medley and 200-meter butterfly on Day One and silver medal in the 800-meter freestyle.
Soni, the queen of the breaststroke, won her second gold medal in a breaststroke event. After winning the 50-meter breaststroke, she won the 100-meter breaststroke in a meet record 1:03.98, and renewed her rivalry with Aussie Leisel Jones.
Soni was only 0.01 seconds ahead of Jones at the midway point but turned it on coming home.
“I definitely saw her next to me,” Soni said. “I know turns are my weakness so I just tried to outswim her and get to the wall first.
“It’s hard to be the first race of the night. I’m used to sitting back there and watching Ryan Lochte set a world record first.”
Albert Subirats of Venezuela won his country’s first gold medal at a world championship since 1997 in the 50-meter butterfly in a meet record 22.40.
“I am happy to get gold for myself and my country,” Subirats said. “I think I have gotten fourth by 1/100th of a second six times over the last few years.”
Russian Stanislav Donets won the 50-meter backstroke in a meet record 22.93.
Cielo will go after his second gold medal on Sunday after being the top qualifier in the 100-meter freestyle semifinals in a meet record 46.01. He was 0.13 ahead of world record pace midway through his race.
Lochte, who also has three gold medals, was the fastest qualifier for Sunday’s 100-meter individual medley in a meet record 50.81, just 0.05 seconds off the world record. Germany’s Markus Deibler qualified second in 52.08, a German national record.
“I don’t know what to say about that race,” Lochte told reporters afterwards. “I’m not used to swimming it. Today was my easy day. I was pushing for it this morning until just at the end and then I stopped. I enjoyed that race.
“I’m not really aiming for anything on Sunday. It’s definitely going to be a hard challenge for me. It’s probably going to be the hardest day. But I’m up for it.”
Lochte has already won gold in the 200-meter freestyle as well as his world record swims in the 200- and 400-meter individual medleys. On Sunday Lochte is scheduled to swim the 100-meter individual medley, 200-meter backstroke and may swim on the 4×100-meter medley relay.
“I do have a tough schedule, it’s just a lot of racing,” Lochte said. “It’s a stepping stone for me on the way to the World Championships.”
The Netherlands won the women’s 4×100-meter freestyle relay in a meet record 3:28.54, ahead of the U.S. team of Natalie Coughlin, Katie Hoff, Jessica Hardy and Dana Vollmer (3:29.34) and China (3:29.81).
Team USA leads the medal count with 18 total medals (8 gold, 4 silver and 6 bronze). China has 12 total, 2 gold, 4 silver and 6 bronze. Competition concludes on Sunday.
In the men’s 50-meter breaststroke, SOFLO’s Vlad Polyakov of Kazakhstan finished 11th in the semifinals in 26.86 and did not make the final eight. Brazil’s Felipe Silvas was top qualifier in 26.22.
SOFLO’s Alia Atkinson will compete in the women’s 200-meter breaststroke for Jamaica. The heats will take place in the morning session.
Eight-and-under swimmer Luke Gillette of Trinidad and Tobago’s Marlins club team broke a 30-year-old record on Day Two of the annual Invitational Swim Meet at the Marlins pool. Gillette was first in his age group in the 100-meter freestyle in 1:12.15. The old record of 1:12.24 was set by Laurens Albada in December 1980. Gillette also won the 50-meter butterfly in 36.73.
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org