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SWIMMING

Lochte's world record is one of 7 for the day

The American bests the 200 individual medley mark set by Michael Phelps, who sat out the race. In five days of the championships, 29 world records have fallen.

July 31, 2009|Lisa Dillman

ROME — Michael Phelps, quick in the pool, was nearly as fast with a race review Thursday night. It came from his vantage point in the stands where he observed the men's 200-meter individual medley from behind his shades, sans shirt, making a concession to the Roman heat.

"He texted me and said, 'That was a great swim and I think it's still beatable,' " said Phelps' coach, Bob Bowman. "And he may be right."

They plan to find out now that longtime Phelps rival Ryan Lochte has offered a plot twist in the event, winning the 200 IM at the world championships in a world-record 1 minute 54.10 seconds, erasing Phelps' world mark.

It was not the lone world record on Day 5. Far from it.

The world records here have become devalued by the deluge and are now greeted almost with a shrug, unless, of course, an Italian swimmer lowers a world standard.

Seven records tumbled Thursday, bringing the total for the meet to 29. It was a virtually global glut, with records from Canada and Brazil and two apiece from Australia and China, in addition to Lochte's

Lochte won by 1.14 seconds, beating Hungary's Laszlo Cseh, and U.S. teammate Eric Shanteau was third in 1:55.36. Lochte and Cseh have long been eclipsed by Phelps in the individual medley events, but Lochte never got frustrated.

"No, not at all, just because Michael did such a good job making a name for swimming," Lochte said. "He kind of put the sport on the map. I love a challenge and I love racing against him. I kind of wish he swam the 200 IM, because I think it would have been a good race."

Lochte couldn't escape Phelps. Not completely.

"When I was walking out when they were calling each lane and I looked up at the scoreboard and they showed like the crowd and they showed Michael," Lochte said. "I kind of smiled to him."

Bowman called Lochte's performance an "awesome swim" and said Phelps would be back in the 200 IM, so the rivalry will resume in 2010, if not sooner. But that depends on Bowman, who threatened to keep Phelps out of international competition until FINA, which oversees the sport, solves its swimsuit controversy.

Bowman has been sharply criticized in some quarters over his stand. "I'm perfectly fine with that, because I had to make the point and the point was made," he said. "This isn't a polite issue. We did politeness for the last year and a half."

Not only has Phelps lost two of his world records in three days -- the 200 freestyle to Paul Biedermann and the 200 IM to Lochte -- but even one of his American records vanished.

David Walters finished fifth in the 100 freestyle in 47.33, under Phelps' mark of 47.51. Cesar Cielo Filho of Brazil became the first man to go under 47 seconds in the event, winning in a world-record 46.91.

"It's a little intimidating because Cesar likes to pound on himself," Walters said of Cielo's pre-race routine. "You'll have headphones in, and you're like, 'What is that noise?' You look over and Cesar is hitting himself.

"But I think what got me motivated was on the way over here we had a police escort and for once in my life, I wish they had seat belts on a charter bus. I had my cup of coffee and it was splashing on me. People were clapping for lane changes. It was just outta control.

"Only [President] Obama could experience it."

But Walters may have had the quote of the year on the controversial high-tech suits, the polyurethane bodysuits turning the meet into a target of ridicule. He wore an Arena suit when he couldn't get a Jaked replaced after it ripped.

"I feel they sew the suits together with Elmer's Super Glue and a hot iron," Walters said.

You might say the Jaked suits giveth, and Jaked taketh.

Mary DeScenza knows this only too well. Wearing the Jaked suit, she set a world record in the 200 butterfly heats on Wednesday, going 2:04.14. In Thursday's race, she finished fourth, losing her world record. Jessicah Schipper of Australia won in 2:03.41.

"I probably didn't swim it as smart as I should have," she said. "I went out there and raced each time and gave it my all. I was kind of all over the place with my splits.

"You can't go back and change it," she said. "You can only live in the moment."

DeScenza is getting married shortly and will be moving to Japan, and this could have been her last appearance on the world stage. "I don't know," she said. "I honestly can't tell right now. I'm just going to take it day by day and month by month and see how everything falls into place."

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lisa.dillman@latimes.com

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BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX

Clocking in

World records set Thursday at the World Swimming Championships in Rome:

MEN

Ryan Lochte, U.S.: 200 individual medley, 1:54.10.

Cesar Cielo Filho, Brazil: 100 freestyle, 46.91.

Christian Sprenger, Australia: 200 breaststroke, 2:07.31.

WOMEN

Jessicah Schipper, Australia: 200 butterfly, 2:03.41.

Annamay Pierse, Canada: 200 breaststroke, 2:20.12.

Zhao Jing, China: 50 backstroke, 27.06.

China (Yang Yu, Qian Wei Zhu, Liu Jing, Pang Jiaying): 800 freestyle relay, 7:42.08.

MEET TOTALS

Men: 10 | Women: 19

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