Lochte sets 1st world record since bodysuit ban

Ryan Lochte on Thursday set the first individual swimming world record since high-tech bodysuits were outlawed.

By (AP)

Published: Thu 16 Dec 2010, 11:05 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 4:57 AM

The American won the 400-meter individual medley at the short-course world championships in 3 minutes, 55.50 seconds, smashing the previous record set by Laszlo Cseh of Hungary a year ago by nearly two seconds.

“I wasn’t really expecting that,” Lochte said. “I was going out there to race the field. I had no idea where I was at during the race.”

While China’s women’s squad set a world record in the 800 freestyle relay Wednesday, no other world marks — none in the long-course pool — have been set in 2010, with the bodysuit ban installed at the beginning of the year.

By contrast, in 2008 and 2009, nearly every record in the sport was broken multiple times.

Olympic 1,500-meter champion Oussama Mellouli of Tunisia finished second, a distant 1.90 seconds behind, and Tyler Clary of the United States was third, 2.06 back.

Lochte trailed Clary at the race’s midpoint, but was able to stay underwater longer than his teammate and took the lead on the butterfly leg. He was still 0.03 behind the world record mark at 300 meters and turned on the speed in freestyle to beat all his competitors by more than a bodylength and usher in a new era in swimming.

Never one to celebrate wildly, Lochte simply let out a smile when he looked up at the scoreboard and saw the result, then made a fist pump.

The victory marked Lochte’s second consecutive individual gold of the meet after opening with a victory Wednesday in the 200 freestyle.

Lochte will be back in the pool later for the 800 freestyle relay and he has three more individual events plus perhaps another relay to swim before the meet ends Sunday.

The rubberized bodysuits that revolutionized swimming the past two years ended up rewriting the record books almost completely.

Of the 32 current long-course world records, all but four of them were set in 2009 — and only one — Grant Hackett’s mark in the 1,500-meter freestyle from 2001 — came before 2008.

In the shorter 25-meter pool, all but 10 of the 42 world marks were set in 2009 entering this meet; and at the last short-course worlds in Manchester, England, two years ago, a whopping 18 world records were set.

Numbers like these prompted swimming governing body FINA to ban rubberized suits at the start of 2010 and limit men to wearing suits covering the waists down only to the knees. Women’s suits must now be sleeveless and not go beyond the knees.

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