Swimming: Lochte wins 200IM in world-record time There's a reason high-school gym coaches everywhere are always preaching to get your backside in the gym, telling you that hard work really does pay off.
Photo Courtesy: Alan Abrahamson - Ryan Lochte at the 2011 FINA World Championships.
There's a reason high-school gym coaches everywhere are always preaching to get your backside in the gym, telling you that hard work really does pay off, that the people who are most prepared end up winning.
Ryan Lochte defeated Michael Phelps in the 200-meter individual medley Thursday night in a thrilling race, setting the first world record of the 2011 world championships -- the first world record in a 50-meter pool since the plastic-suit era ended.
Lochte was timed in 1:54 flat, Phelps in 1:54.16. Laszlo Cseh of Hungary, who is a terrific swimmer but has the misfortune of being on the world stage during the same years as Phelps and Lochte, finished third, in 1:57.69.
Lochte had held the previous world record, 1:54:10, set at the 2009 worlds in Rome.
"The only word to describe that race is, jeah!" Lochte said after Thursday's race, which is Lochte-speak for "everything is really, really cool," which for him right now it assuredly is.
He has this week defeated Phelps twice, in the 200 IM and in the 200 free. Over the last year, Lochte has worked out like a fiend. Phelps has only in the past few months started to apply himself again.
To the uninitiated, 16-hundredths of a second may seem like a cruel differentiator. But on such small slices do world records, and championships, rest. At this level, swimming is assuredly that exact.
The difference between the two Thursday was rooted in the work each had put in beforehand.
Lochte and Phelps are good friends. Both savor winning. Neither likes to lose, and that's putting it mildly. What we have now is a year in which both have vowed to get their respective backsides into the gym, and the pool, in preparation for London.
Those 2012 Games should thus be an amazing show.
Because Thursday night sure was.
"I wanted to do something that everyone thought wasn't possible since they banned those suits." Lochte said. "Everyone thought a world record would never get touched again. I just wanted to show everyone that can happen. That's why we have records. They're meant to get broken.
"All that hard work I've done this year, and dedication. It definitely paid off."
The fiasco that was the Rome 2009 world championships -- where 43 world records were broken, because of the plastic suits -- was underscored by the specialness of the occasion Thursday. FINA, swimming's worldwide governing body, hauled out a sponsor-plastered backdrop for photo ops at Lochte's news conference; that sort of thing didn't happen in Rome. Why would it? 43 records -- it got to be silly.
To break a world record, said Nathan Adrian, the best American sprinter, "It takes something spectacular, not just great, and Ryan's got it."
Lochte's coach, Gregg Troy, wryly noted that Lochte's effort was "not a perfect swim but probably pretty good for him."