America’s Ryan Lochte lived up to his star billing at the 10th Fina World Swimming Championships (25m) to bag his fifth gold medal and seventh overall with a phenomenal effort in the butterfly leg of the 4x100 metre medley relay at the Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Sports Complex in Dubai on Sunday.
The thrilling duel between Russia and Team USA provided a perfect finale to the five-day competition in which four world records and 57 championship marks were set.
USA led the final medal count with 25 including 12 gold, ahead of Russia (10), Spain (8), China (14) and France (8) among the 22 countries who secured medals.
Lochte’s six gold medals have seen him surpass the all-time short course world championship medal record of 17 by Swedish powerhouse Therese Alshammar.
The double world record-breaking star was named best male of the championships during the closing ceremony while Spain’s Mireia Belmonte Garcia was the best female athlete with three golds and one silver.
Lochte's all-time tally now stands at 21, four ahead of Alshammar.
Mireia Belmonte Garcia of Spain emerged as the best female swimmer with four medals (gold in the 200m butterfly, 200m and 400m individual medley, and silver in the 800m free) while American Rebecca Soni also sparkled by completing a treble gold with victory in the 200m breaststroke to add to her 50m and 100m titles.
Brazilian Cesar Cielo completed a freestyle double by winning the 100m final in a new Championship record of 45.74 second to be crowned as the fastest man in the short pool.
The accolade of being the fastest female swimmer went to Holland’s Ranomi Kromowidjojo who stopped the clocked in the 50m freestyle final at 23.37 seconds to add to her 100m freestyle triumph.
Felicity Galvez won the only gold medal for Australia on the final day by setting a new Championship record of 55.43 in the women’s 100m butterfly event.
“I had some down time today to think and I thought we haven’t got a gold for Australia all through this meet and I just thought I had to go out there and get it. When I swim, I swim to win medals but right now I want to take some time out and see life without swimming,” said Galvez.
“It’s been a tough race between Therese (Alshammar) and I the whole way through. She won the 50m and I felt I deserved to win this one. It has been a great race for both of us and the times have been unbelievable,” she added.
On the crowd noise which delayed the start, she said: “There has been a great crowd and its emotional. Nobody ever wants to false start in a final. I just had to get back down and try to regain my composure again.”
Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace also rewrote the history books winning a bronze in the women’s 500m freestyle – the first medal ever for Bahamas in the history of the championships. It’s the first international success at this level for Vanderpool-Wallace, a 20-year-old swimmer living and training in Florida.
“I just wanted to go out there and swim the best I can, this is amazing. I trained my butt off and I’m so happy to finally get a medal and for people to see how hard I work. I swim for Auburn University in the USA and we have NCAAs and SECs coming up and that’s my next goal. On the international front, the world championships are next for me,” said Arianna.
Olympic and world champion in the 1,500 freestyle Oussama Mellouli won his fourth medal in Dubai and Tunisia first gold medal in Dubai having clocked 14:24.16 in the heats.
But the highlight of the day was Lochte’s victories in the 200m backstroke, 100m individual medley and the 4x100 metre medley relay to become the first swimmer to win seven medals in one edition of this championships.
“After the 200m backstroke, I think I could have gone a little faster. I gave it my best shot but it was a good start,” said Lochte after his 100m individual IM.
“I just went for it. I felt it a lot in my legs after the 200m backstroke but it’s around the time I went in the semis so I’ll take it.”
Olympic and world champion Cesar Cielo opened the final day’s proceedings by setting a world record pace at the halfway stage of the men’s freestyle final but in what was perhaps the race of the championships.
But the Brazilian sprinter had to settle for yet another Championship record of 45.74 followed by Italian Fabien Gilot (45.97) and Russia’s Nikita Lobintsev (46.35), who got his fourth medal of the championship, after winning the 4x200m free relay, and finishing second in the 400m free and 4x100m free relay.
“It was harder than I expected. I thought I was going to be faster but a gold is always a gold. I’ll take that and I’m happy with it. I’m hoping to stay at the top of my game until Brazil 2016. I’m going to have to keep training harder and harder because it’s harder to reach the top and get the best times... I’ll do my best,” said Cielo.
Jing Zhao struck gold for China in the women’s 50m backstroke with a Championship record of 26.27 holding off the challenge from Australia’s Rachel Goh (26.54) and Spain’s Mercedes Peris Minguet (26.80).
But all eyes were on Lochte when he entered the pool in the 200m backstroke. Comfortably controlling the entire race, the 26-year-old champion got the gold in 1:46.68, a new championships record, and earned his 20th medal in this competition, after his first participation in 2004.
Clearly behind, the two remaining spots of the podium went to USA’s Tyler Clary (1:49.09) and Austria’s Markus Rogan (1:49.36), the winner of this event in 2008 in Manchester.
Less than half an hour later, Lochte came back to the pool for his gold medal, this time in the 100m individual medley, in a time of 50.86, slightly slower than his championships record (50.81) established in the semis.
European champion Markus Deibler of Germany was second in 51.69, while the bronze went to Russia’s Sergey Fesikov in 51.81. George Bovell III, from Trinidad and Tobago missed what could have been the first podium ever for his country in the history of these championships by a mere 0.16 seconds – he was fourth in 51.97.
World record holder in the women’s 200m breaststoke, Rebecca Soni improved on the Championship record twice winning the final in 2:16.39 from China’s Ye Sun (2:18.09) and Denmark’s Rikke Moller Pedersen (2:18.82) to win her third gold medal in Dubai.
“It was a good race. I’m really excited to go home with three gold medals. It wasn’t really expected. On another note I’m more relieved that I wasn’t racing against Leisel Jones (Australia) as it just puts on too much pressure. On the other hand I would take any opportunity to race with her,” said Soni.
“It’s a really exciting feeling. I came here looking to get some good racing and I’ve had a great time. I really liked having the 50m first and the distance getting longer and longer, at the same time I got used to the sprints so the 200m felt really long. I just had to stretch out the first 100m and then push the second 100m,” she added.
Undoubtedly inspired by Cielo’s performances, his teammate Felipe Silva got his first gold ever for Brazil in the men’s 50m breaststroke, touching first in a new Championship record of 25.95. Silver medallist in this distance at the 2009 Worlds in Rome, Silva obtained in Dubai his first world title and gave Brazil its third gold in this Championships.
“It’s an honour to break the Championship record and to be first. I have a fever and I’m not feeling very well so I was a little confused after the race but I’m very pleased with my performance,” said Silva.
He beat the current world record holder and gold medallist in the 100m breaststroke, South African Cameron van der Burgh (26.03) while the bronze went to Norway’s Aleksander Hetland (26.29).
“I’m feeling sick so it’s not been great. I’ve been focusing on the 100m and I’d rather win gold in the 100m than gold in the 50m,” said Cameron after coming second.
For the second time in these championships, the Netherlands got a one-two finish in the women’s 50m free thanks to the gold of Ranomi Kromowidjojo (23.37) and the silver of Hinkelien Schreuder (23.81). The bronze went to Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace, from Bahamas (24.04).
“It was fast and I was fast enough to get second. I’m very happy with that, it’s my seasons best time. I’m just glad I finished it off, it’s very competitive in Netherlands as you can see and you have to be on top of your level. You get on with every new race, focus and get on the best you can,” said Schreuder.
South African Chad Le Clos, gold medallist in the 200m individual medley at the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore won his first senior world gold medal in Dubai by pacing himself beautifully and surging ahead in the last few metres in the men’s 200m butterfly.
“I’m delighted to win the gold…to be honest I think I was lucky on the touch. I had hoped for a medal but I’ve surprised myself… I can’t believe it. I watched the replay and it was a very close race,” said Le Clos.
The 18-year-old from Durban stopped the clock at 1:51.56 defeating world record holder Kaio Almeida (1:51.61) who was the third Brazilian medallist of the day. The bronze went to the fastest qualifier of the heats Hungary’s Laszlo Cseh (1:51.67) while China’s Peng Wu faded away after setting a world record pace at the halfway stage.
Sweden’s veteran swimmer Therese Alshammar obtained her 17th medal in these championships, since her first participation in 1997 to equal retired US champion Jenny Thompson feat. Alshammar (33) came second in the 100m butterfly (55.73) behind Australia’s Galvez, winner in a new Championship record of 55.43, a winner in 2008. American Dana Vollmer (56.25) got the bronze.
Italian ‘diva’ Federica Pellegrini’s nightmare in Dubai as the world record holder failed to mount a serious challenge in the women’s 200m freestyle final in which France’s Camille Muffat came from behind to win a thrilling duel with American Kathryn Hoff.
“I went in to the race thinking that whatever happens will be fine. But I’m pleased overall, it was a great way to end the meet. I recently changed my training to add more aerobic work, worked on my technique and my mental preparation. This year I felt really fit,” said Hoff.
Muffat got the gold in a new championship record of 1:52.29 while Hoff (1:52.91) had to settle for silver, her third medal in Dubai after the gold in the 400m free and the silver in the 4x100m freestyle relay.
It was Muffat’s first individual medal in these championships, after a third place in the 4x200m free relay. The bronze went to Australia’s Kylie Palmer in 1:52.96.
“I’m very happy with the race, it was a good swim. I felt a bit alone because there were a few French swimmers tonight. That’s my personal best, I was trying to improve my skills here in Dubai and I’m very happy I did it. I made the right choice with this discipline because now I’m the world champion,” said Muffat.
In a men’s 1,500m free in run in two parts, Tunisian star Oussama Mellouli had to swim his pet event in the morning slower heats, due to an administrative problem with his entry time for the championships. He then raced alone against the clock, and had to wait for the fastest heat in the afternoon: in the finals’ session, Denmark’s Mads Glaesner clocked 14:29.52 to get silver while Hungary’s Gergely Gyurta (14:31.47) got the bronze.
“Was that easy? Nothing is easy at this level. The support out here is incredible. I feel like I’m in a soccer arena. It’s very refreshing for swimming to have this level of support with the drums and the flags - it’s awesome,” said Mellouli appreciating the tremendous support he got from his fans throughout the competition.
It was Lochte who provided a finale to this championship in the 4x100m medley relay, when the USA got the gold in a new championships record of 3:20.99 with the help of Nicholas Thoman, Mihail Alexandrov and Garrett Weber-Gale.
“We knew we had to come here and get the American flag out there and go hard, we wanted to go out with a bang. We just knew no matter what, we had to do it, we had to get it done,” said Weber-Gale.
After the Russians streaked ahead in the opening backstroke and breaststroke segment of the relay through Stanislav Donets and Stanislav Lakhtyukhov, Lochte swam a brilliant butterfly leg to give the lead to Weber-Gale who held off Nikita Lobintsev to win a thrilling race providing a perfect climax to the five-day championship.
Results on final day
Men’s 200m butterfly final
1. Chad Le Clos (South Africa) 1:51.56
2. Kaio Almeida (Brazil) 1:51.61
3. Laszlo Cseh (Hungary) 1:51.67
4. Christopher Wright (Australia) 1:51.85
5. Wu Peng (China) 1:51.92
6. Marcin Cieslak (Poland) 1:53.09
7=. Bobby Bollier (US) 1:53.61
7=. Jayden Hadler (Australia) 1:53.61
Women’s 50m freestyle final
1. Ranomi Kromowidjojo (Netherlands) 23.37
2. Hinkelien Schreuder (Netherlands) 23.81
3. Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace (Bahamas) 24.04
4. Jessica Hardy (US) 24.09
5. Triin Aljand (Estonia) 24.16
6. Li Zhesi (China) 24.18
7. Victoria Poon (Canada) 24.19
8. Dorothea Brandt (Germany) 24.21
Men’s 100m individual medley final
1. Ryan Lochte (US) 50.86
2. Markus Deibler (Germany) 51.69
3. Sergey Fesikov (Russia) 51.81
4. George Bovell (Trinidad and Tobago) 51.97
5. Kenneth To (Australia) 52.20
6. Takuro Fujii (Japan) 52.36
7. Jake Tapp (Canada) 52.97
8. Henrique Rodrigues (Brazil) 53.69
Women’s 200m breaststroke final
1. Rebecca Soni (US) 2:16.39
2. Sun Ye (China) 2:18.09
3. Rikke Moeller Pedersen (Denmark) 2:18.82
4. Yuliya Efimova (Russia) 2:19.69
5. Martha McCabe (Canada) 2:20.61
6. Ji Liping (China) 2:21.05
7. Rie Kanetou (Japan) 2:22.11
8. Alia Atkinson (Jamaica) 2:25.49
Men’s 200m backstroke final
1. Ryan Lochte (US) 1:46.68
2. Tyler Clary (US) 1:49.09
3. Markus Rogan (Austria) 1:49.96
4. Aschwin Wildeboer (Spain) 1:50.01
5. Ryosuke Irie (Japan) 1:50.18
6. Radoslaw Kawecki (Poland) 1:50.90
7. Jake Tapp (Canada) 1:52.56
Damiano Lestingi (Italy) DSQ
Women’s 50m backstroke final
1. Zhao Jing (China) 26.27
2. Rachel Goh (Australia) 26.54
3. Mercedes Peris (Spain) 26.80
4. Miyuki Takemura (Japan) 26.91
5. Gao Chang (China) 27.00
6. Anastasia Zueva (Russia) 27.01
7. Aliaksandra Gerasimenya (Belarus) 27.02
8. Fabiola Molina (Brazil) 27.67
Men’s 100m freestyle final
1. Cesar Cielo (Brazil) 45.74
2. Fabien Gilot (France) 45.97
3. Nikita Lobintsev (Russia) 46.35
4. Alain Bernard (France) 46.37
5. Matthew Abood (Australia) 46.40
6. Nathan Adrian (US) 46.44
7. Luca Dotto (Italy) 46.68
8. Stefan Nystrand (Sweden) 46.81
Women’s 100m butterfly final
1. Felicity Galvez (Australia) 55.43
2. Therese Alshammar (Sweden) 55.73
3. Dana Vollmer (US) 56.25
4. Liu Zige (China) 56.61
5. Lu Ying (China) 56.62
6. Jeanette Ottesen (Denmark) 56.67
7. Christine Magnuson (US) 56.98
8. Inge Dekker (Netherlands) 57.46
Men’s 50m breaststroke final
1. Felipe Da Silva (Brazil) 25.95
2. Cameron Van Der Burgh (South Africa) 26.03
3. Aleksander Hetland (Norway) 26.29
4. Roland Schoeman (South Africa) 26.41
5. Mike Alexandrov (US) 26.44
6. Robin van Aggele (Netherlands) 26.50
7. Alexander Triznov (Russia) 26.71
Fabio Scozzoli (Italy) DSQ
Women’s 200m freestyle final
1. Camille Muffat (France) 1:52.29
2. Katie Hoff (US) 1:52.91
3. Kylie Palmer (Australia) 1:52.96
4. Tang Yi (China) 1:53.07
5. Blair Evans (Australia) 1:55.03
6. Evelyn Verraszto (Hungary) 1:55.06
7. Federica Pellegrini (Italy) 1:55.24
8. Dana Vollmer (US) 1:56.73
Men’s 1500m freestyle final
1. Oussama Mellouli (Tunisia) 14:24.16
2. Mads Glaesner (Denmark) 14:29.52
3. Gergely Gyurta (Hungary) 14:31.47
4. Federico Colbertaldo (Italy) 14:33.92
5. Peter Vanderkaay (US) 14:35.25
6. Sebastian Rouault (France) 14:42.79
7. Ahmed Mathlouthi (Tunisia) 14:43.25
8. Lucas Kanieski (Brazil) 14:45.51
Men’s 4 x 100m medley relay final
1. US (N.Thoman/M.Alexandrov/R.Lochte/G.Weber-Gale) 3:20.99
2. Russia (S.Donets/S.Lakhtyukhov/E.Korotyshkin/N.Lobintsev) 3:21.61
3. Brazil (G.Guido/F.Da Silva/K.Almeida/C.Cielo) 3:23.12
4. France (C.Lacourt/H.Duboscq/F.Bousquet/F.Gilot) 3:23.60
5. Australia (B.Treffers/B.Rickard/G.Huegill/M.Abood) 3:24.46
6. Japan (R.Irie/N.Tomita/M.Kishida/T.Fujii) 3:25.67
7. Germany (S.Herbst/H.Feldwehr/B.Starke/S.Deibler) 3:26.05
8. China (Cheng/Wang/Chen W/Lu) 3:27.47