U.S. Swimmer Ryan Lochte Sets New World Record in an Old Suit
Friday, July 31, 2009
ROME, July 30 -- Having for years competed in many of the same events as Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte is used to standing a step lower than Phelps on the medal podium.
Lochte finally got his chance for glory Thursday night in the final of the 200-meter individual medley, with Phelps taking a break from the event after dominating it for six years.
Lochte, however, still had Phelps's legend to contend with.
What would a mere victory mean with the great Phelps watching from the stands, wearing sunglasses and no shirt?
Lochte solved that problem by touching the wall in 1 minute 54.10 seconds, not only claiming the world title but also surpassing Phelps's world record of 1:54.23.
And -- this must be noted -- Lochte achieved the dual victory at the swimming world championships in the same suit Phelps wore at last year's Olympic Games when he set the previous mark.
"I love it," Lochte said. "I love the challenge. Everyone complains about all the new suits, blah, blah, blah. I go out there wearing the same suit that's been out there, and I just give it to them."
Lochte, 24, a surfing aficionado from Daytona Beach, Fla., certainly gave it to Hungary's Laszlo Cseh, a seemingly perennial second-place finisher who came home in 1:55.24, and fellow American Eric Shanteau, who grabbed the bronze in 1:55.36 -- then came back later and qualified for Friday's final in the 200 breaststroke.
And Lochte gave it to Phelps, too.
Lochte admitted smiling to himself after spotting Phelps on the giant screen at the Foro Italico, sitting with the U.S. team.
"It feels good to do that; at the same time, I wish he were swimming," Lochte said. "I love the challenge, and I love racing against him. He is one of the best swimmers ever."
Lochte can be sure he will face Phelps in the event again -- next year, in fact. About a minute after Lochte finished, Phelps's coach Bob Bowman, also the coach of the U.S. team and therefore standing on the pool deck, got a text message from Phelps.