Dubai, world s/c championships, day 2 finals:
Men's 400m Medley
Take that! Ryan Lochte (USA) became the first swimmer in 2010 to set a world (s/c) record in a solo event with a blistering 3:55.50 victory in the long medley. The battle for the minor spoils went in the last two strokes to Oussama Mellouli (TUN) in 3:57.40, Tyler Clary giving the US a second podium place just 0.16sec away.
Lochte, on his way to winning the crown a third time after victories in 2006 and 2008, established his lead at the start before easing into pace alongside Chad Le Clos (RSA), Mellouli and Clary. All in line, Le Clos turned first into backstroke in 54.05, Lochte last of the four on 54.62.
Out of the first backstroke turn, the Americans had started to forge a lead, with Clary fighting to get away from Lochte on the second 50m on the way to turning ahead in 1:52.99, Lochte 0.74sec adrift. The gap was closed 50m later, Lochte gaining a slight edge on Clary, with Mellouli still in contention, the rest of the field blown away.
Lochte, guided by US head Olympic coach Gregg Troy in Florida, blasted into freestyle like an iron ball leaving its cannon. The damage was permanent 50m on and Lochte had gold in his grasp, a bodylength lead leaving those who chased with a mission impossible. Lochte's second gold of the meet, after victory over 200m free yesterday, was his in 3:55.50, well inside the 3:57.27 standard set in the shiny suits era by Laszlo Cseh (HUN).
A rolling riot of skills and controlled rage, Lochte, his mop of locks gone under the scissor for the session, is world record holder over the long medley for the first time in a career that includes medals at Olympic, world l/c, world s/c and Pan Pac levels.
"I wasn't really expecting that," said a smiling Lochte. "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."
The splits compared:
The race marked Cseh's first medley defeat by a domestic rival in international championship waters.
History in the making:
World s/c Podiums
Most world titles in this event: 3
Most world records in this event (since specific 25m records began in 1991): 2
All-time textile rankings top 5:
From the archive:
The introduction of medley, courtesy of the official birth of butterfly in the 1950s, witnessed a rush of 11 world records in four years that, between 1953 and FINA's decision that from 1957 world marks could only be set in 50m pools, saw the 400m standard crash from 5:48.5, by Frank O'Neill (AUS) ion Sydney on January 17, 1953 to 5:08.3, clocked by Vladimir Stroujanov (URS) in Moscow on March 17, 1957. FINA then set a minimum time standard in a 50m pool of 5:22.0. Stroujanov was the first to crack that in 5:12.9 on October 20, 1957. It was 1960 before the world record fell inside the standard that had stood when the rules allowed records in pools of many sizes.