DUBAI // If Ryan Lochte continues to swim with such purpose this week, he threatens to put Dubai's Gold Souk out of business.
Last night, on his way to securing his second gold medal in as many days here at the Fina Short Course World Championships, the American set the first individual swimming world record since the prohibition of high-tech bodysuits.
Lochte triumphed in the 400-metre individual medley at Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Sports Complex with a time of 3mins 55.50secs, smashing Hungarian Laszlo Cseh's previous record, set last year, by nearly two seconds.
"I wasn't really expecting that," Lochte said. "I was going out there, racing the field and I had no idea where I was during the race.
"I'm really happy. It was a world record and you have to be happy with that. Every year, everyone is getting faster.
"I don't think it has sunk in yet. I'm not one of those people who will celebrate or let it get to me. As soon as I touched the wall it's over.
"It feels good. It's the nature of the sport that people are going to find different ways to get faster. Records are made to be broken and it is only a matter of time. I guess I am lucky that it came sooner.
"We had a team meeting this afternoon and said we had to turn it around. Breaking a world record always gets the team pumped up.
" I love doing the 400 IM. It is one of the hardest events and I am going to keep doing it."
Lochte also spoke of the care he takes in avoiding ingesting anything that could jeopardise his career. "What I have always been told with the Team USA is when you take supplements you take them at your own risk. If you take something - even it if it was given to you - you gotta be careful and take it at your own risk."
Oussama Mellouli finished 1.90secs behind in second - much to the delight of a very vocal Turkish crowd - while Lochte's compatriot, Scott Clary, was third, a further 0.16secs back.
"It's almost bittersweet," Clary said. "[For the US] to get a world record [but for me to] come third. It's absolutely the best I've ever swum, but Ryan's having an amazing year and he deserves it."
Lochte had been keen to emulate Michael Phelps, his Olympic 4x200m relay teammate, by winning eight golds this week and achieved the perfect start on Wednesday's opening day when he won the 200m free. But the 26-year-old's target was derailed when his country managed only fourth place in the 400m relay later the same night.
Yesterday evening, the US relay team, competing in the 4x200m relay without Phelps, who opted not to travel to Dubai this week, finished second despite bettering the world record. First-placed Russia finished in 6:49.04 - 0.55secs ahead of the US and almost exactly two seconds faster than Canada's 2009 mark.
"We have all learned so much from Michael," said Clary, who watched the relay from the sidelines. "Everybody learned a lot from the suit era from the 2009 worlds [in Rome]. Everybody learned what it felt like to swim with a better body position and the experience of that feel has paid off a lot, especially this year now that we can relate that to how we train. It's a sure sign of progression in the past year and a half."
There was more joy for Russia, too as Evgeny Korotyshkin won gold in in the men's 100m butterfly to go with his 4x200m gold and Stanislav Donets won the men's 100m backstroke.
Cesar Cielo Filho, the Brazilian who finished fastest in the 50m free semi-finals and will be challenged by American Nathan Adrian in today's final, said he expected Lochte to break more world records in the coming days.
"That was sick, man," said Cielo of Lochte's performance in the 400m medley. "I can't even do that in freestyle. I believe, that will be the first of many."
Lochte has three more individual events before the championships end on Sunday.