Dubai, world short-course championships, day 1 finals:
Men's 200m freestyle
Hard to say just how much Ryan Lochte, at the start of five days of hard racing, had left in the tank but suffice it to say that his 1:41.08 championship-record victory in the world title 200m freestyle ended with two slow-winging, straight-armed strokes, or put in another way a couple of slaps in the face of his rivals.
Lochte, the American coached by Gregg Troy in Florida, was control personified on the way to the top of the podium ahead of Danila Lobintsev (RUS), on 1:41.70, and Oussama Mellouli (TUN), on 1:42.02, just 0.01sec ahead of Nikita Lobintsev (RUS), with world l/c champion of 2009, Paul Biedermann (GER) on 1:42.19. Biedermann's world record of 1:39.37 was set in Berlin in November 2009 before the ban on non-textile suits and was never going to be a realistic target in Dubai today.
From the go, Lochte had the race in his grasp, emerging from the dive a head and shoulders above the rest before settling in to get a measure of the men either side of him. By the 50m mark, Tommaso D'Ortogna (AUS) was first with his foot to the wall in 23.67, the rest in a line, 0.29sec splitting the five men who would finish ahead of the rest by the close of battle. That would be the last time Lochte did not have the fastest two-lap split. At the half-way turn, just a slight shift discernible, Lochte now taking a slight edge, on 49.80, 0.04sec up on the young Australian.
Lochte's third 50m was the swiftest in the field, a 25.66 that left him half a second ahead of Izotov, the Russian having rolled from 5th to second in the 50m leading up to the last two laps. The pack was struggling but Lochte showed no mercy. In 25.62, he delivered first gold for a US team wearing orange ribbons bearing the initials FC in remembrance of Fran Crippen, the marathon ace who died in a 10km race off the coast of the UAE on October 23.
FINA President Julio Maglione addressed the world media on that matter today, saying: "I have to tell you that the biggest tragedy in FINA history happened in this country last October 23 in Fujairah, and FINA immediately established a formal inquiry task force with experts in different areas, including two members proposed by USA aquatics and USA Swimming. We want to understand ... what was behind the tragic loss of the open water champion Fran Crippen." He said that the task force's resport would be "considered by the TOWSC [technical open water swimming committee] as well as by the [ruling] Bureau", adding: "We naturally would like to speed up this process as quickly as possible. However, due to the complexity of the investigations it will take some more time.
The 200m freestyle result:
"I just wanted to do a good time," said Lochte. "Usually my first race is always the worst, so glad that's out of the way." Ahead of him: 200m backstroke, 200m and 400m medley and three relays.
Biedermann remains not only world record holder but the holder of the best time ever in textile. Today was just not his day. "I just don't know what went wrong,: he said. "I'm going to have to go away and look at my technique. I feel I could have gone faster but I just don't know..."
History in the making:
World s/c Podiums
Most world titles in this event:
Records (TB = best ever in a textile suit)
Most world records in this event (since specific 25m records began in 1991):
All-time textile rankings top 5:
From the archive:
Until the advent of Cesar Cielo, Gustavo Borges was the most successful swimmer ever to emerge from Brazil. Born on December 2, 1972 in Ribeirão Preto, Borges was a super-talent in the making by the time he was 15, his coaches after that age including Maurício Frajacomo, Alberto Klar, Gregg Troy, Jon Urbanchek and Alberto Silva. Now a member of the FINA Athletes' Commission, Borges ended his career in the wake of one last freestyle relay for Brazil at the Olympic Games at Athens in 2004. An imposing figure towering in at 2.03m, he claimed Olympic silver over 100m free (1992) and 200m free (1996) and bronze in the 100m free (1996) and in the 4x100m freestyle (2000). His medal-winning days as a senior international began in 1991, at the Pan-American Games. At home in Rio de Janeiro in 1995, when Copacabana Beach was the spectacular scene of a pioneering world titles event in a temporary pool, Borges claimed the 200m free crown. Two years on in Gothenburg he retained the crown and remains the only swimmer ever to have done so. This quote given to SwimNews by Cesar Cielo sums up the home impact of Borges's success story: "I grew up watching [Alexander] Popov winning his races every time so I have Popov [RUS] as my idol. I always tried to swim like him. He used to swim with Gustavo Borges, he was one of his rivals, and I watched all their rivalry as a boy. Both Popov and Gustavo are my idols. I was lucky because I got to swim with Gustavo for almost two years before he stopped swimming and I tried to get as much experience from him as I could. He told me a lot of stuff about Popov. They are people I looked up when was young and I learned a lot from watching them."