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World Swimming Championships

March 31, 2007

Times staff writer Lisa Dillman's seventh-day highlights from Melbourne, Australia:

Streak buster: Maybe it has something to do with Australia.

This is where Aaron Peirsol suffered his last international defeat in the 200-meter backstroke when he finished second to Lenny Krayzelburg at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. Following that, Peirsol was untouchable in major meets, going on to break Krayzelburg's world record in Minneapolis in 2002.

He brought it down three more times, fended off Michael Phelps in the Olympic trials in 2004 and won gold in Athens.

But the streak came crashing to a halt in Melbourne at the hands of 22-year-old Ryan Lochte, who has seemingly been for years in the shadow of Peirsol and Phelps. Lochte ended that era with an incredible star turn here Friday, breaking Peirsol's world record in the 200 backstroke and helping push Phelps and the U.S. men to a world mark in the 800 freestyle relay.

Peirsol seemed at a loss to describe what happened, considering he had been under world-record pace at 150 meters. "I don't know. I'm not doing too good right now," Peirsol said.

Said Lochte of Peirsol: "He really didn't say much. I think he was kind of upset."

Lochte wasn't getting a lot of immediate reaction, at least not the kind he wanted. He joked about his coach Gregg Troy's blase response after the victory. The mellow Lochte fired back at him.

"He was like, 'That's a good swim,' " Lochte said. "I was like, 'Shake my hand!' "

Markus Rogan of Austria finished third and joked about the end of an era.

"I'm more [hacked] that when he chose to lose he didn't lose to me," Rogan said of Peirsol. "I would not have expected that. I wish I could have watched it."

He thought Lochte might have to make a choice between the 200 backstroke and the 200 individual medley, saying they might be on the same day at the Olympics next year. The schedule has not been released, however. The question for Lochte: Phelps in the 200 individual medley or Peirsol in the 200 backstroke?

"It's a much bigger deal to beat Michael than to beat Aaron," Rogan said. "Now he should take care of Michael."

Not that Rogan has any vested interest in Lochte not swimming the backstroke.

*--* UP NEXT

*--*

Men's 400 individual medley: Incredibly, Phelps is not the defending world champion. But there is an explanation: He skipped the event, and rival Laszlo Cseh of Hungary stepped in to fill the gap at Montreal in 2005. Cseh is back, as is the rapidly improving Oussama Mellouli of Tunisia, who made history in Melbourne by winning the first swimming gold medal at worlds for his country when he took the 800 freestyle. Then there's the newly confident Lochte.

"Since the summer of 2002, I've realized that Michael's whole plan is to put the rest of the national team men out of a job, and now Lochte is doing the same thing," said American Ian Crocker.

*--* TODAY'S FINALS

*--*

* Women's 50 butterfly

* Men's 50 freestyle

* Women's 200 backstroke

* Men's 100 butterfly

* Women's 800 freestyle

* Women's 400 medley relay

*--* MEDAL TABLE

*--*

* United States: 23 -- 13 gold, nine silver, one bronze.

* Australia: 15 -- Six gold, three silver, six bronze.

*--* FRIDAY'S WINNERS

*--*

* Women's 100 freestyle: Lisbeth Lenton (Australia), 53.40.

* Men's 200 backstroke: Ryan Lochte, 1:54.32

* Women's 200 breaststroke: Leisel Jones (Australia), 2:21.84

* Men's 200 breaststroke: Kosuke Kitajima (Japan), 2:09.80

* Men's 800 freestyle relay: United States (Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Klete Keller, Peter Vanderkaay), 7:03.24

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