DUBAI // Ryan Lochte has set the first individual swimming world record since high-tech bodysuits were outlawed.
The American won the 400m individual medley today at the Fina World Short Course swimming championship in Dubai in 3min 55.50sec, smashing the previous record set by Laszlo Cseh of Hungary a year ago by nearly two seconds.
While China's women's squad set a world record in the 800m freestyle relay yesterday, no other world marks — none in the long-course pool — have been set in 2010, with the bodysuit ban installed at the beginning of the year.
By contrast, in 2008 and 2009, nearly every record in the sport was broken multiple times.
Olympic 1500m champion Oussama Mellouli of Tunisia finished second, a distant 1.90sec behind, and Tyler Clary of the United States was third, 20.06sec back.
Lochte trailed Clary at the race's mid-point, but was able to stay underwater longer than his teammate and took the lead on the butterfly leg.
He was still 0.03sec behind the world record mark at 300m and turned on the speed in freestyle to beat all his competitors by more than a bodylength and usher in a new era in swimming.
Never one to celebrate wildly, Lochte simply let out a smile when he looked up at the scoreboard and saw the result, then made a fist pump.
The victory marked Lochte's second consecutive individual gold of the meet after opening with a victory yesterday in the 200m freestyle.
Lochte will be back in the pool later for the 800m freestyle relay and he has three more individual events plus perhaps another relay to swim before the meet ends on Sunday.