WRITTEN BY SHARON ROBB
August 20, 2010
The most popular name in swimming right now is Floridian Ryan Lochte.
Lochte, 26, the Olympic champion in the 200-meter backstroke, won his signature event Friday night for his fourth gold medal on Day 3 of the Mutual of Omaha Pan Pacific Championships in Irvine, Calif.
The tireless Lochte also came back to swim the second leg (47.98) of the winning men’s 4×100-meter freestyle relay that won in a meet record 3:11.74.
In the 200 backstroke, Lochte controlled the race from start to finish at the William Woolett Jr. Aquatics Center. Despite a small glitch in the final 10 meters when he hit the lane line, he finished in a meet record 1:54.12.
“I felt pretty controlled,” Lochte said. “I tried to hold back on my first 50. I learned that from my mistake in the 400 IM. I held back and went from there. In the last 10 meters, I was trying to stay in the middle but it didn’t work, I hit the lane line.”
Lochte touched the first wall in 27.26 with Tyler Clary just 2/10ths of a second behind. Lochte then built a bigger lead off his underwater dolphin kick and was 55.76 at the 100 mark. He picked up the pace on the third 50 off the wall with 10 dolphin kicks and had a body length lead going into the final 50.
Clary was second in 1:54.90 and Japan’s Ryosuke Irie was third in 1:55.21. Lochte was the fastest morning qualifier in 1:55.26, just ahead of Clary’s 1:55.56.
“The year is going good for me,” Lochte said. “This meet is just a stepping stone for next year worlds and the Olympics. I am right where I need to be.”
The previous meet record was 1:54.44 set by world and American record holder Aaron Peirsol who failed to make the final.
Peirsol, the Olympic gold medalist, was shut out of the finals with a time of 1:56.22. “Nothing I can do about it,” Peirsol said. “The time I had to do wasn’t easy.” Peirsol ran away with the “B” final in 1:56.67.
Lochte has two events remaining headed into the fourth and final day of the pool events on Saturday. The open water events are Sunday.
The newly-committed Lochte who has dumped his fast food diet and dedicated himself even more for the lead-up to the 2012 Olympics, has caught everyone’s attention at the meet including Michael Phelps’ coach Bob Bowman.
“They’ve traded places,” Bowman said. “You know how I am. It’s very hard for me when I can’t follow a plan. With Michael we have a five-minute plan. My other guys, we have a four-year plan.
“You can tell Ryan looks better,” Bowman said. “He’s definitely fitter. And that means you train better. That’s something, a good thing for Michael, something he’s never done that he can really improve on. We have at least one thing we can really do a lot better.”
Phelps looked better than he has all week in the 100-meter butterfly.
The 14-time Olympic gold medalist won the event in a meet record 50.86. It was his second gold medal after winning the 200 butterfly on Wednesday.
Phelps reaction time was slow off the blocks but he made up for it at the turn with a 24.0 split. After the turn he came up in the lead and held on. U.S. teammate Tyler McGill was second in 51.85 and Japan’s Takuro Fujii was third in 52.12.
“The first 50 I wasn’t happy with, I couldn’t get it going,” Phelps said. “I wanted to stay underwater as long as could coming off the wall. I tried to keep the momentum I built coming home.
“The hardest thing for us as a team is to get up in the morning and be able to fight for spots in the final,” Phelps said. “It is hard to have two tough swims in one day with the competition here and on the team. For the guys and girls who are able to do that here, it is good for the future.”
Phelps also swam a great leadoff leg (48.13) for the men’s winning 4×100-meter freestyle relay.
A day after his disappointment of not making the 400-meter individual medley, Phelps seemed to feel better about his swims.
“I feel a little bit better today than I have the last couple of days,” Phelps said after morning prelims where he was the fastest qualifier in 51.48. “Probably because there are only two laps instead of four.
“I wanted to break the Pan Pac record this morning but to have two Americans going under 52 is pretty good. The times are faster in the events here than I did at nationals. If I can go faster than I did at the nationals then that would be good.
“My conditioning level is still four, four-and-a-half out of 10. I think the real test for my motivation will be when I get back in the pool and when I start full training again.”
Other final results Friday night:
Women’s 400-meter freestyle: American Chloe Sutton took control at the 300-meter mark and held off Aussie Katie Goldman in the last 10 meters to win in a career-best 4:05.19. Goldman was second in 4:05.84 and her teammate Blair Evans was third in 4:06.36. American Allison Schmitt was fourth in 4:06.73. “I can’t believe that just happened,” Sutton said. “I am really so happy. Honestly, I didn’t think I could do it. I thought I was going to finish second. I am so excited. I was still fighting at the end. I had my eye on the Australians. When I touched the wall I was so happy.” It was Sutton’s last pool event. She will now get ready for the 10K open water swim on Sunday. Two weeks after winning the national title in the event, Katie Hoff failed to advance into the championship final. She finished with the fifth fastest time in 4:08.93 but was surpassed by U.S. teammates Chloe Sutton, Allison Schmitt and Kate Ziegler, who also did not advance. Ziegler ended up winning the “B” final in 4:05.52.
Men’s 400-meter freestyle: Korean Park Tae Hwan turned it on in the last 100 meters to win in 3:44.73, fastest time in the world this year. Canadian Ryan Cochrane, the early leader, was second in 3:46.78 and China’s Zhang Lin was third in 3:46.91.
Women’s 100-meter butterfly: American record holder Dana Vollmer came back in the second half of the race to win in 57.56. “I knew I had to get going and moving after the first wall and just chugged it home,” said Vollmer, whose fiancé surprised her by showing up in Irvine to watch her race. Vollmer also anchored the winning 4×100-meter freestyle relay team that won in a meet record 3:35.11. American teammate Christine Magnuson was second in 57.95 and Aussie Alicia Coutts was third in 57.99. Aussie 14-year-old Yolane Kukla, leading after the first 50, faded to fourth in 58.22.
Women 200-meter backstroke: American Elizabeth Beisel held off teammate Elizabeth Pelton in the final 10 meters to win her second gold medal of the Pan Pacs in a meet record 2:07.83. Beisel was at 1:35.62 off the final wall but Pelton had a stroke lead after her underwater kick. Pelton finished second in 2:08.10 and Aussie Belinda Hocking was third in 2:08.60. All three swimmers finished under the old meet record of 2:08.86. “It was all pain in the last 50, it hurt so much,” Beisel said. “I am happy with the time. It’s my best time in this suit. I have been able to relax more at this meet. I am having fun now. Nationals was a little stressful.” American teenager Missy Franklin won the “B” final in a career-best 2:08.05
Women 50-meter breaststroke: With a quick reaction off the start, American Jessica Hardy, the fastest morning qualifier, won in 30.03.
“I was really, really pleased with this time,” Hardy said. “I am really excited and happy in front of my family and friends.” Aussies Leiston Pickett was second in 30.75 and Leisel Jones was third in 30.78.
Men 50-meter breaststroke: Brazil’s Felipe Silva, the top morning qualifier, led from wire-to-wire to win in 27.28. American Mark Gangloff was second in 27.52 and Canadian Scott Dickens was third in 27.63. Japan’s Kosuke Kitajima tied for fifth in 27.67.
For the second day in a row, the U.S. swept the men’s and women’s relays, this time the 4×100-meter freestyle. The women’s team of Natalie Coughlin, Hardy, Amanda Weir and Vollmer won in a meet record 3:35.11 breaking the previous U.S. meet record of 3:35.80. The U.S. men’s relay of Phelps, Lochte, Jason Lezak and Nathan Adrian won in 3:11.74, also a meet record.
Saturday’s events are men’s and women’s 200-meter individual medley, 50 freestyle, 200 breaststroke, women’s 1500 freestyle and men’s 800 freestyle. A total of 21 countries including the Pan Pac charter nations of Canada, Australia, Japan and the U.S. are competing. Brazil, China and Korea are also entered.
It is the biggest international meet of the year for Americans and other non-European swimmers. Only the top two finishers from each country are allowed to advance into the finals.
Prelims are 1 p.m. EST and finals 9 p.m. EST. Prelims and finals are being webcast on SwimNetwork.com and also being shown on Universal Sports. NBC will televise the meet on Saturday (4-6 p.m.) and Sunday (5-6 p.m.).
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org