x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Shorter race, same result as Lochte sets another record

The US swimmer has his sights on Shanghai and London after just failing to beat 1min 50sec barrier in Dubai.

Ryan Lochte on his way to a world record last night in the 200-metre individual medley.
Ryan Lochte on his way to a world record last night in the 200-metre individual medley.

DUBAI // Another day, another world record - Ryan Lochte's domination of the 10th Fina World Swimming Championships continued in Dubai last night.

The 26-year old American followed up his shattering of the 400-metre individual medley best time on Thursday night by doing the same in the shorter version of the event that calls for supreme versatility.

He was within a fingertip of becoming the first man to post a sub- 1min 50sec time for the 200m IM as the computer clocked him at just eight hundredths of a second outside that landmark.

Lochte, who arrived in the UAE with his sights on eight golds, is still on course to increase his haul from three to six over the last two days of the meeting and is confident about his chances.

After putting a remarkable 2.82secs between him and his closest pursuer, Markus Rogan of Austria, Lochte said: "I'm just going out there to swim tough. Whatever the outcome of my other events I will take it.

"I see this meeting as a good stepping stone for next year's worlds in Shanghai and then on to the Olympics [in London in 2012].

"My overall goal though is to help to make our sport bigger than what it is today and setting world records is obviously going to help achieve that objective."

While Lochte is undoubtedly the star of the meeting, Cesar Celio, a Brazilian flyer, claimed the distinction of being the fastest swimmer in Dubai this week as he captured the 50m freestyle gold medal.

Benefiting from the absence of South African world record holder Roland Schoeman from the short course meeting at the new Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Sports Complex, Celio electrified the crowd by covering two lengths of the new pool in 20.51secs.

That gave him in what is such a rapid-fire event a comfortable winning margin of 0.3secs over French silver medallist Frederick Bousquet with Josh Schneider of the United States taking bronze in 20.88secs.

Celio, 23, was ecstatic after seeing his nation's flag hoisted at the state-of-the-art venue. "The last three years of my life have been amazing," he said. "I have progressed from just a regular swimmer to a world champion in that time.

"It's a dream come true for me and I hope that my efforts here inspire people to have more pride in Brazil."

There was a big upset in the 400m freestyle as Germany's Paul Biedermann, swimming out in lane eight after qualifying for the final with the slowest time, deprived the crowd of what they believed would be an Arab gold from the Tunisian Oussama Mellouli.

Mellouli, who had set the fastest time in the heats, did not even manage silver as Russia's Nikita Lobintsev, swimming alongside the winner in lane seven, was carried along by the German in a private duel.

"I was just watching Nikita," said Biedermann, of his surprise triumph. "Otherwise there was no great tactical plan.

"This was my last event so I'm now going to enjoy Dubai and buy some Christmas presents."

A stunned Mellouli reflected: "It was an interesting race but I didn't expect Biedermann and Lobintsev to take it out that fast from the outside lanes.

At 33, Therese Alshammar is old enough to be the mother of several of the other female swimmers who have been chasing gold at this week's star-studded meeting, but the Swedish veteran proved that she has lost none of her phenomenal speed with advancing years.

Alshammar, who has lowered the short course 50m butterfly world record on three occasions since she first broke it in her home pool of Stockholm two years ago, showed her younger rivals a clean pair of heels.

Streaking home in 24.87secs, a good deal slower than her lifetime best of 24.38secs which was set in Singapore 13 months ago, Alshammar claimed gold ahead of Australia's Felicity Galvez, eight years her junior and Denmark's Jeanette Ottesen, to whom she was conceding 10 years.

 

wjohnson@thenational.ae