Michael Phelps has lost his men’s 200-meter individual medley world record — a mark he has held for six years — after fellow-American Ryan Lochte claimed gold in the world swimming championships in Rome in a new best time.
Lochte came home first in a time of one minute 54.10 seconds, bettering the mark of 1:54.23 set by Phelps when winning Olympic gold in Beijing on August 15 2008. Hungarian Laszlo Cseh was second in 1:55.24 and American Eric Shanteau third in 1:55.36. Phelps had held the world record since 2003, and had lowered it seven times. The 14-time Olympic gold medallist has dominated the event, winning world titles in 2003, 2005 and 2007, and Olympic gold in 2004 and 2008. But when he opted out of the medleys to concentrate on freestyle and butterfly this year it opened the door for Lochte and Cseh. Lochte had taken world championship silver behind Phelps in 2007, and was third behind Phelps and Cseh at the 2008 Olympics. Elsewhere, world records continued to fall with ease at the Floro Italico. Annamay Pierse of Canada broke the women’s 200m record with a time of two minutes 20.12 seconds in her semifinal.
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Pierse broke the previous record of 2:20.22 set by American Rebecca Soni en route to Olympic gold in Beijing last year. Brazil’s Cesar Cielo claimed gold in the men’s 100m freestyle in a world record time of 46.91 seconds, breaking the previous record of 47.05 set by Australian Eamon Sullivan in the semifinals in Beijing. Cielo also denied Olympic gold medallist Alain Bernard, who was second in 47.12. Another Frenchman, Frederick Bousquet, was third in 47.25 seconds. Another record went when Australian Jessicah Schipper won the women’s 200m butterfly in a time of two minutes 03.4 seconds, breaking the previous record of 2:04.14, set in the heats on Wednesday by American Mary Descenza. Australian Christian Sprenger also went into the history books, setting a new world record in the men’s 200m breaststroke with a time of two minutes 07.31 seconds in the semifinals — breaking the previous record of 2:07.51 set by Kosuke Kitajima of Japan in Tokyo in June last year.