Istanbul, World Short-Course Championships, day 3 finals:
Men's 200m medley
"I'm sexy and I know it" rocked the deck and rafters as Ryan Lochte waved up at the US team and a modest but appreciative crowd: 1:49.63, another pioneering and ambassadorial world-record moment for the pride of the Gator family that had just sunk his teeth into history once more.
There was never any doubt about who was going to win, the question: by how much. Lochte set the world mark as the star of Dubai 2010, his 1:50.08 threatening to crack one of those barriers that make up the lore of sport and no limits. The closest to him since has been a 1:51.89 by Michael Phelps, the greatest Olympian who Lochte hopes to talk back to the water from the green. The gap widened, the chances slimmer still perhaps.
"This was definitely the way to end 2012," said a beaming Lochte, four gold and a bronze into the meet - and owner of the sole world mark, all suits, of the meet so far. "I was not expecting a world record. I just went in to do the best I could do."
He gave his medal away to a young boy in the crowd. Asked why, he said: "One of the main reasons for racing is because of my fans, so I always want to give something back. If I took the medal it would end up in a sock drawer, if I give it to a fan they’re going to treasure it. It will make their day or even their life. To see that smile on that little face means everything to me."
Asked what he usually did with his medals he replied: “I give them all away.”
Comparisons of 2010/2012 and with his fellow man shine a light on the magnitude of Lochte's scope:
The silver went to 400m champion Daiya Seto (JPN) in 1:52.80 and at 18 years 204 days the youngest medallist ever over 200IM, the bronze to Laszlo Cseh (HUN) in 1:52.89. Between 1:53.42 and 1:56.312 came Ken To (AUS), Conor Dwyer (USA), Kosuke Hagino (JPN), Diogo Carvalho (POR) and Simon Sjoedin (SWE), every one world-class.
For Galactic class, look to Lochte, charge of Gregg Troy and team at the University of Florida. In the one race:
Watch out Doha 2014 - where there's a second in the line, you can guarantee Lochte will want to make it a first, if not today then tomorrow on his way to Rio 2016 (and perhaps beyond).
On breaking the world record, he told reporters at a press conference here in Istanbul: "Any time you break the world record it’s amazing. I swam my best time of course, I wanted to do something that no one else did here. I didn’t know I was going that fast anyway."
History in the making:
World s/c Podiums
Most world titles in this event: 4 - Ryan Lochte (USA) 2012, 2010, 2008, 2006
1:49.63 Ryan Lochte (USA) 14.12.12 Istanbul
All-time textile rankings top 5: