By Amy Shipley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 22, 2010; 12:31 AM
IRVINE, CALIF. - Ryan Lochte made a run at his world record in the 200 individual medley in the final at the Pan Pacific Championships on Saturday, but fell just 0.33 seconds short as he won the gold medal in a race that Michael Phelps elected to skip.
Lochte wanted not only to back up his victory over Phelps two weeks ago in the event at the U.S. championships, but also to become the first swimmer to break a world record since supersuits were banned in January.
Lochte touched the wall in 1 minute 54.43 seconds, easily topping U.S. teammate Tyler Clary, who won his third silver medal this week with his finish in 1:57.61. Lochte set the world record of 1:54.10 at last summer's world championships.
"That's absolutely amazing, to come that close to that time non-suited," Clary said. "I'm hugely proud of him for it."
The event was Lochte's last here, and it gave him his sixth gold medal, the most of any competitor.
"I knew I had it in my sight," he said about the world record. But "I think all of the swims I had earlier this week made me a little tired toward the end of the race."
Clary had a chance to bump Phelps, who watched from behind a barrier just feet from the starting line, off of next summer's world championship team in the event if he went under Phelps' time of 1:55.94 from the U.S. championships.
Phelps was scheduled to compete in entered the event but pulled out Saturday morning. His coach Bob Bowman he wanted to focus on the 4x100 medley relay.
"I wanted to prove to everyone that [my victory] wasn't a fluke at nationals," Lochte said. "I was kind of disappointed. He's a good friend of mine and I love racing the guy. It stinks he wasn't swimming it."Hardy's comeback
American Jessica Hardy won her third medal of the week in a triumphant return to major international competition. Hardy claimed the title in the 50 freestyle with her finish in 24.63, topping U.S. teammate Amanda Weir (24.70).
Hardy missed the 2008 Summer Games after testing positive for a steroid, but two arbitration panels determined the positive result was caused by a contaminated supplement.
"I'm having a blast here," Hardy said. "The whole past two years have been really hard. . . . I'm very happy with where I am now, and I'm looking forward to continuing to improve." . . .
Nathan Adrian backed up his surprise victory in the 100 freestyle final earlier this week with another gold in the 50 free. Adrian earned his third gold medal of the meet with his victory in 21.55, edging Brazil's Cesar Cielo (21.57). . . .
Great Falls' Kate Ziegler won her second medal of the week, claiming the silver in the women's 1,500 freestyle in 16:03.26.