Lochte breaks record, Magnussen ends wait

James Magnussen

SHANGHAI,  (Reuters) – Ryan Lochte became the first  swimmer to break a long course world record since controversial  polyurethane swimsuits were banned last year while James  Magnussen ended a far longer Australian wait at the world  championships yesterday.

Ryan Lochte

Lochte, pushed every stroke of the way, managed to hold off  compatriot and Olympic champion Michael Phelps in the men’s 200  metres individual medley and break his own record in one minute  54.00 seconds.

The 26-year-old was 0.10 faster than the time he set at the  Rome world championships in 2009. Phelps was a fingertip behind  in 1:54.16.

“It was definitely something I wanted to do, something that  everyone thought wasn’t possible that the world record (would)  be touched again,” Lochte told reporters. “I just wanted to show  to everyone that (it) can happen.

“I am just happy all the hard work and dedication paid off.”

While Lochte and Phelps brought the crowd to their feet in  the Oriental Sports Centre, millions of Australians were surely  on theirs shortly afterwards as 20-year-old Magnussen ended the  country’s 43-year wait for the blue riband men’s 100 freestyle  title.

Australia had not won the title in a global championships  since Mike Wenden took Olympic gold in Mexico City in 1968 and  had never won it at a world championships, which began in 1973.
“No Australian has won this race in the world champs (and)  it’s such an amazing thing for me,” said Magnussen, now firmly  in the spotlight for next year’s London Olympics.

Ryan Lochte

“I’m obviously happy and proud with myself for gaining the  honor for Australia (and) it sounds amazing to be called a world  champion.”


Lochte’s swim produced the first long course world record  since the polyurethane swimsuits, which helped swimmers set 43  in Rome, were banned from the start of last year.

Phelps, who had not competed in the 200 IM in Rome, said he  was disappointed to finish second but pleased to beat the time  he set (1:54.23) when he won Olympic gold in Beijing in 2008.

“Coming into this race I knew (the) world record was going  to be broken. Whoever won had to break the…record,” he said.

“It says a lot that we still can do that time. We are going  to see more (of this) and more often.”

Lochte, who had told Phelps he would be “super tired” for  the men’s 200 backstroke, dispelled those fears by cruising to  victory in the first semi-final and setting the fastest time for  today’s final.
The United States picked up their second gold medal of the  day when the women’s 4×200 metres freestyle relay team led from  start to finish to win the gold, edging out Australia and China.

Jiao Liuyang also provided the host nation with their fourth  gold in the pool, and 14th overall in Shanghai, when she won the  women’s 200 butterfly from lane one.

The victory was particularly enjoyable for Jiao, who had to  settle for silver behind compatriot Liu Zige at the Beijing  Games.

Liu, who had been chasing down Jiao was overtaken in the  final few strokes yesterday by Britain’s Ellen Gandy, who  almost overhauled the tiring Jiao.

Russia’s Anastasia Zueva, who missed out on the gold by 0.01  seconds in the women’s 100 backstroke on Tuesday, was surprised  to take gold in the 50 backstroke.

“I did not expect to get the gold medal in the 50, because  it is not an Olympic event so I did not concentrate on it,”  Zueva said. “But my coach had great belief that I could win.

“I felt really tired in the last (few) metres, but I really  wanted to win.”

Rebecca Soni and Kosuke Kitajima were the fastest qualifiers  for the women’s and men’s 200 breaststroke finals on Friday,  while Britain’s Fran Halsall qualified fastest for the women’s  100 freestyle final.

Germany’s world record holder and Olympic champion Britta  Steffen, who had struggled to qualify in the 16th and final  place for the 100 freestyle semi-finals, withdrew from the  championships.

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