Dubai, Day 3: Lochte imperial sets WR in the 200m IM

FINA World Swimming Championships (25m)

Ryan Lochte (USA)- credit: gettyimagesRyan Lochte (USA) obtained his fourth medal at the 10th FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) – and 19th since 2004 -, with a superb new World Record in the men’s 200m individual medley and the highlight of the third day of the competition in Dubai. Touching first in 1:50.08, he improved the previous world best mark established by Darian Townsend (RSA) in November 2009, in a time of 1:51.55. Lochte, already with one WR in Dubai (in the 400m IM) and medals also in the 200m free (gold) and 4x200m free (silver) performed a solitary race, leaving Markus Rogan (AUT) with the silver in a time of 1:52.90 and Scott Clary (USA) with the bronze (1:53.56). Nothing seems to stop Lochte, also with a very successful career in 50m-pool: six Olympic and 13 world medals.

“I always get better after the first day, but I race for fun, so what comes as outcome I take it! These results just get me ready for the 2011 Worlds in Shanghai and the Olympics in 2012,” considered Lochte about his performances so far in Dubai. Asked about his personality, he confessed: “I am just being myself, and let my personality to come out (like with the story of the shoes…), in order to attract more people to swimming. My overall goal in swimming is just to make it bigger than it is now. I think Phelps started with all that and made the Sport bigger than what it was before. I just try to help in that effort”.

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Ryan Lochte (USA) - credit: gettyimages


Two more US gold medals
Among women, Katie Hoff (USA) obtained her first gold medal at the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m), after one silver (400m IM) and one bronze (200m IM) in 2004 in Indianapolis. Winning he 400m free in a new championships record of 3:57.07 (also the best time of the season), Hoff added a short course title to a roll of honour including three Olympic medals and seven World Championships (50m) awards. In her effort in Dubai, Hoff was followed by Kylie Palmer (AUS, winner of this race in 2008, and owner of the former competition record), who touched second in 3:58.39. The bronze medal was obtained by Italian “diva” Federica Pellegrini in a time of 3:59.52 – Pellegrini, current Olympic champion of the 200m free, never got a gold medal at a 25m Worlds, being second in the 200m and third in the 400m free in Shanghai 2006.

The third US gold medal of the day went to Ariana Kukors in the women’s 100m individual medley. Fastest of the semis in a new championships record of 58.65, Kukors was slower in the decisive race, touching home in 58.95. She was nevertheless the only swimmer under the 59-second mark and confirmed her successful appearance at the highest level in 2009, when she got the world (long course) title in the 200m individual medley. In short course it is her first medal ever. The real surprise came from 16-year-old Kotuku Ngawati, from Australia, silver medallist in 59.27 in her first final at this level. The current WR holder in this distance, Dutch Hinkelien Schreuder (57.74, from November 2009) got the bronze in 59.53. Finally, confirming the not so good moment of the Hungarian team, the 2010 short course European champion, Evelin Verraszto finished in sixth.  

One-two for the Netherlands
After Spain on Day 2, it was the Netherlands turn to perform a one-two finish, with the victory of Ranomi Kromowidjojo in the women’s 100m free, in a championships record of 51.45 (improving the joint best marks established in 2000 by Therese Alshammar and in 2008 by Marleen Veldhuis, in 52.17). Kromowidjojo – whose best result in a FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) had been a 2008 bronze medal in the 4x200m free relay – controlled the entire race, and was followed by her teammate Femke Heemskerk, silver medallist in 52.18. The Dutch swimmers were the fastest of the semis and Kromowidjojo had also been the recent European champion in the distance, in a slighter better time of 51.44. The bronze went to Natalie Coughlin (USA), who touched home in 52.25. It is the second medal for the North American star in Dubai, after the gold on Day 2 in the 100m backstroke.

Castel confirms excellent season

From France came the revelation of the season named Alexianne Castel, winner of the women’s 200m backstroke in a time of 2:01.67. Owner of the best season’s time before Dubai (from early December, with an 2:03.01 effort at the French Nationals), Castel got the first gold (and medal) in a world-level event, after being seventh in long course pool at the 2009 rendezvous in Rome (ITA). Aged 20, and training in Toulouse, she beat US Melissa Franklin (only 15, fastest of the heats and silver medallist in 2:02.01) and China’s Yanxin Zhou, third in 2:03.22. It was the second gold medal for France in this competition, after the successful relay of the men’s 4x100m free.

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Alexianne Castel (FRA) - credit: gettyimages


Tomita beats Gyurta
In the much awaited Tomita-Gyurta duel in the men’s 200m breaststroke, the current WR holder and fastest of the heats (Daniel Gyurta, HUN) could not resist to a brilliant race from Naoya Tomita (JPN), gold medallist in a new championships record of 2:03.12. The Japanese swimmer was, before Dubai, the best performer of the season, with his Swimming World Cup time of 2:03.18, but Gyurta had given good indications in the morning about the possibility of getting the first gold for Hungary in these championships. But the race didn’t unfold in accordance to Gyurta’s desire and Tomita dominated the operations, leaving the Magyar star (silver medallist at the 2004 Olympics in this event) in second place, in a time of 2:03.47 (his WR being 2:00.67, from December 2009). It was the first medal ever for Japan in this event in the history of the championships and the first gold medal for a male swimmer of this country in the competition. The podium was completed by Brenton Rickard (AUS), in 2:04.33.

Alshammar gets 68th medal!

At 33, Therese Alshammar (SWE) seems to be in her best shape ever. After winning the 2010 FINA/ARENA Swimming World Cup series, Alshammar got the gold in the 50m butterfly in 24.87 (new Championships record), obtaining her 68th medal in world or European-level competitions (long and short course, since 1997). Only at the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m), this was the 16th award for the Swedish champion. Already winner of this event at the 2006 Worlds in Shanghai (CHN), Alshammar (who is the WR holder in 24.38 and clocked the fastest time of the semis) was closely followed by Felicity Galvez (AUS, and winner of the race in 2008), second in 24.90 (in fact, Alshammar had a more efficient arrival than the Australian). The bronze went to Jeanette Ottesen (DEN), in a “distant” 25.24.

Biedermann dominates 400m free
In the men’s 400m free, Oussama Mellouli (TUN, the fastest of the heats, in 3:39.64) seemed to be in a good position to get the gold, but after a very solid 300m, he “died” in the last part of the race, leaving the initiative to Paul Biedermann (GER), in lane 8. Biedermann, the WR holder in the distance (3:32.77) and still with no medals in Dubai, touched first in 3:37.06 (faster than the time, 3:39.51, needed to obtain his European crown two weeks ago), getting at the same time the first award for his country in these championships. The silver went to Nikita Lobintsev (RUS), first in the 4x200m free relay and second in the 4x100m free relay, in a time of 3:37.84. Mellouli ended up with the bronze, in a 3:38.17 effort – which gave him the third medal in Dubai, after the silver in the 400m IM and the bronze in the 200m free. The second Tunisian of this final (a significant performance for this African country), Ahmed Mathlouthi finished in eighth, while France’s representatives (Sébastien Rouault and Yannick Agnel), concluded in sixth and seventh respectively.

“I was disappointed after the 200m, so I said to myself that I just had this race to finish well the year: I could lose everything, or try to win. In the end, things worked out well!” declared Biedermann. “I am getting better in the 400m, and apparently losing some speed in the 200m. Let’s see how it will evolve – for now, I finished my year, it’s time to have some vacation,” he added. “The next World Championships will certainly be tough, as I saw that in the Asian Games many competitors are swimming well – I then have to work more, to be more concentrated on my races so that I can defend my world titles next year,” he concluded.

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Paul Biedermann (GER) - credit: gettyimages


Cielo, France’s nightmare
In the fastest race of the programme, the men’s 50m free, a titanic duel opposed Cesar Cielo (BRA) and his main challengers, France’s Alain Bernard and Fred Bousquet. Being the fastest of the semis (20.61), Cielo is definitively the nightmare of the European sprinters, winning the gold in a new championships record of 20.51. After the victory at the 2008 Olympics in the 50m free, and in the 2009 Worlds in the 50m and 100m free, always in front of French competitors, Cielo (23 years old – and always very emotive at award ceremonies) imposes his speed also in short course waters, giving the first gold for Brazil in Dubai. Fred Bousquet had to settle for the silver in 20.81 (he had won at these championships the gold in the 4x100m free relay), while US Josh Schneider (first international final at 22) got the bronze in 20.88. The recent European champion, Germany’s Steffen Deibler narrowly missed the podium, touching fourth in 20.97. Even worse, Alain Bernard (Olympic champion in the 100m free) was a discreet sixth in 21.20.

“I now have all the major titles a swimmer can dream of. After the Olympics in 2008, and the Worlds in 2009, I feel that I achieved also the best in short course. I’m relieved for that! The hard work paid off and to be able to have some vacation with the mind rested is a great feeling. I also realise that, at 23, I start to have an impressive roll of honour and that sensation is great! This gold is a dream come true!” said Cielo after his achievement in Dubai.

China wins second women relay
After the success in the 4x200m free relay, China won the second women’s relay contested in these championships, the 4x100m medley, in a championships record of 3:48.29. In a close race with USA (silver in 3:48.36) and Australia (bronze in 3:48.88), the quartet formed by Jing Zhao, Jin Zhao, Zige Liu and Yi Tang proved that Chinese women are definitively a strong contender for the top positions in the relay events. Last Chinese victory in this race dates back from 1997, while the subsequent victories went to Japan (1999), Sweden (2000 and 2002), Australia (2004 and 2006), and United States (2008).

After the third day of the championships, four WR and 37 championships records were established in Dubai.


MEDAL TABLE (after Day 3)

          G    S    B
USA    7    3    5
RUS     3    3    -
ESP     3    1    1
CHN    2    2    4
FRA     2    2    2
NED     1    1    1
BRA     1    -    3
SWE    1    -    1
GER     1    -    -
JPN      1    -    -
RSA     1    -    -
AUS     -    5    2
TUN     -    1    2
ITA     -    1    1
AUT    -    1    -
GBR    -    1    -
HUN    -    1    -
VEN    -    1    -
DEN    -    -    1

RECORDS in Dubai (after Day 3)

World Records

Men

200m IM – Ryan Lochte (USA) – 1:50.08 – December 17
400m IM – Ryan Lochte (USA) – 3:55.50 – December 16
4x200m free relay – Russia – 6:49.04 – December 16

Women
4x200m free relay – China – 7:35.94 – December 15

Championships Records

Men

50m free – Cesar Cielo Filho (BRA) – 20.61 (SF) – December 16
50m free – Cesar Cielo Filho (BRA) – 20.51 – December 17
200m free – Oussama Mellouli (TUN) – 1:42.41 (H) – December 15
200m free – Ryan Lochte (USA) – 1:42.38 (H) – December 15
200m free – Ryan Lochte (USA) – 1:41.08 – December 15
50m back – Xiaolei Sun (CHN) – 23.41= (H) – December 17
50m back – Stanislav Donets (RUS) – 23.24 (H) – December 17
50m back – Xiaolei Sun (CHN) – 23.23 (SF) – December 17
50m back – Stanislav Donets (RUS) – 23.02 (SF) – December 17
100m back – Stanislav Donets (RUS) – 49.62 (SF) – December 15
100m back – Stanislav Donets (RUS) – 49.07 – December 16
100m breast – Fabio Scozzoli (ITA) – 57.60 (H) – December 15
100m breast – Mihail Alexandrov (USA) – 57.18 (SF) – December 15
100m breast – Cameron van der Burgh (RSA) – 56.80 – December 16
200m breast – Naoya Tomita (JPN) – 2:04.93 (H) – December 17
200m breast – Daniel Gyurta (HUN) – 2:04.46 (H) – December 17
200m breast – Naoya Tomita (JPN) 2:03.12 – December 17
50m fly – Steffen Deibler (GER) – 22.57 (SF) – December 17
400m IM – Ryan Lochte (USA) – 4:01.76 (H) – December 16
4x100m free relay – Russia – 3:07.78 (H) – December 15
4x100m free relay – France – 3:04.78 – December 15

Women

100m free – Ranomi Kromowidjojo (NED) – 51.45 – December 17
200m free – Camille Muffat (FRA) – 1:53.17 (1st leg 4x200) – December 15
400m free – Katie Hoff (USA) – 3:57.07 – December 17
100m back – Chang Gao (CHN) – 56.58 (SF) – December 15
100m back – Natalie Coughlin (USA) – 56.08 – December 16
100m breast – Rebecca Soni (USA) – 1:04.17 (SF) – December 17
50m fly – Therese Alshammar (SWE) – 25.23 (H) – December 16
50m fly – Felicity Galvez (AUS) – 25.20 (SF) – December 16
50m fly – Therese Alshammar (SWE) – 25.19 (SF) – December 16
50m fly – Therese Alshammar (SWE) – 24.87 – December 17
200m fly – Mireia Belmonte Garcia (ESP) – 2:03.59 – December 15
100m IM – Ariana Kukors (USA) – 59.14 (H) – December 16
100m IM – Ariana Kukors (USA) – 58.65 (SF) – December 16
400m IM – Mireia Belmonte Garcia (ESP) – 4:24.21 – December 15
4x100m medley relay – China – 3:50.69 (H) – December 17
4x100m medley relay – China – 3:48.29  December 17

H – Heats
SF – Semi-final