x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

US team make a splash in pool and then dash for airport

The Americans topped the medal table last night and headed straight for the airport as the five-day Fina Short Course World Championships came to a close.

The victorious US team hug after winning the men´s 4x100-metre medley relay yesterday.
The victorious US team hug after winning the men´s 4x100-metre medley relay yesterday.

DUBAI // The United States swim team, be it in the pool or on the ground, do not wait around.

The Americans topped the medal table last night as the five-day Fina Short Course World Championships came to a close.

But before the water in the 25m pool at the Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Sports Complex had even stopped rippling, Ryan Lochte and Co were aboard a bus heading for Dubai Airport.

Lochte had earlier taken his tally to five gold medals with victories in the 200m backstroke, 100m individual medley and 4x100m IM, while his compatriot Rebecca Soni claimed the 200m breaststroke to complete a hat-trick of golds following her success at 50m and 100m.

"It's not really what I expected coming here," said Soni after clocking a new Championship record of 2min 16.39secs.

"I was just looking to race and post good times. But starting with the 50 was great to get the speed going.

"It was kind of just for fun - especially because we never do it in the US - but it was a great way to start out for me and gold in the 200 is always a good way to finish."

Lochte's success in both the 200m and 400m IM earlier in the week means he is the only swimmer to break an individual world record since the prohibition of high-tech bodysuits.

And he came tantalisingly close to adding a third.

In the 200m backstroke, the 26-year-old was just 0.57secs off Arkady Vyatchanin's world mark of 1:46.11, set in Berlin last year, while in the 100m IM, he missed the record by posting a time that was an agonising 0.1secs behind the 50.76 world mark set by Peter Mankoc in Istanbul last year.

"I just went for it," Lochte said. "I felt it a lot in my legs after the 200m backstroke, but it's around the time I went in the semis so I'll take it.

Lochte may be peerless in the pool when it comes to IM, but Cesar Cielo, the Brazilian, can lay claim to the title of fastest swimmer in the world after completing a clean sweep of the sprinting events.

Cielo complemented his 50m free title that he won on Friday with the 100m freestyle gold last night in a championship-record 45.74 secs.

"It was harder than I expected. I thought I was going to be faster, but a gold is always a gold," said the 23-year-old, who won the 50m free at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

"I'm hoping to stay at the top of my game until Brazil 2016. I'm going to have to keep training harder and harder."

Felicity Galvez also managed to ensure that Dubai did not mark the first Short Course Worlds where an Australia team failed to return home without a gold, triumphing in the women's 100m butterfly.

"I had some down time to think and I thought 'we haven't got a gold for Australia all through this meet' so figured I just had to go out there and get it," she said.

Meanwhile, the UAE team captain Obaid al Jasmi, together with brother Bakhit, Mubarak al Besher and Mohammed al Ghaferi, set a new national record in the 4x100m IM.

The quartet clocked a time of 3 mins 51.83secs during the morning session heats, but unfortunately it was some way off fast enough to qualify for the evening's finals.

"We're happy with the result," al Jasmi said. "The competition was difficult as we have very competitive teams against us. Our main focus was to get a new record for the country and we achieved that.

"The championships have been a good preparation for 2011 championships such as the West Asian and the GCC tournament. We're extremely proud to be representing the UAE, we have a good team here and there is a great spirit within the team."

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae