ROUNDUP: Lochte beats Phelps and French share gold at swim worlds
SHANGHAI, Jul 26, 2011 (Menafn - dpa - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --Ryan Lochte beat superstar Michael Phelps for the first time in a major meet to take the 200m freestyle world title on Tuesday and two Frenchman shared the 100m backstroke gold.
There were also women's gold medals for Dane Lotte Friis in the 1,500m freestyle, American Rebecca Soni in the 100m breaststroke title and local favourite Zhao Jing in the 100m backstroke, the latter with the smallest possible margin.
Lochte showed why he is considered the in-form-swimmer at the moment with a strong third leg that took him past Phelps to win in one minute 44.44 seconds.
The fellow-American Olympic champion Phelps 0had 1:44.79 and bronze went to German world record holder and defending champion Paul Biedermann in 1:44.88.
"I knew they were all going to come out very fast and I knew I had to be in striking distance and make use of my strengths," said Lochte.
In the backstroke, Camille Lacourt and Jeremy Stravius embraced after touching the pad and showed the time-out sign after sharing the gold on 52.76 seconds in a dead heat.
It was the first time that a French male swimmer won a gold medal at the swimming competition and only the second shared world title. The first came in 2007 when Felippo Magnini and Brent Hayden took 100m freestyle gold.
The bronze medal went to Japan's Irie Ryosuke.
The backstroke final was a dramatic race in which just 0.10 seconds separated the first three swimmers, with Zhao edging out Russian Anastasia Zueva on the final metres by one hundredth of a second.
Zhao, who was lying fifth at the half-way stage, registered a time of 59.05 seconds, while Zueva had 59.06. The bronze medal went to Olympic champion Natalie Coughlin of the US, who went into the race with the fastest time and was leading at the turn, but faded at the end.
The Chinese swimmer said that she had been disappointed after the semi-finals and decided to study some videos.
"After the semi, my coach and I studied video replays carefully and he asked to me pay more attention to details," she said.
The American veteran Coughlin said: "I probably overswam the first 30 meters or so and that's very difficult to avoid, especially when you're so excited in the race and you hear the crowd cheering."
Friis, meanwhile, had to do it all on her own, as she swam a lonesome 1,500m race upfront, winning the non-Olympic race in 15:49.59 minutes, well outside the world record 15:42.54 from American Kate Ziegler in 2007.
Ziegler won the silver in 15:55.60, while Li Xuanxu gave the partisan home crowd something more to cheer about as she secured the bronze medal for the hosts in 15:58.02.
"It's always nice to win a gold medal. I will now focus on the 800m next year in London," said Friis.
The final gold medal of the evening went to American Soni, who successfully defended her 100m breaststroke title in a time of 1:05.05 seconds.
Leisel Jones of Australia got silver in 1:06.25, while Ji Lipeng gave the hosts their third medal of the evening when she took bronze in 1:06.52.
There was some consolation for Phelps during the session as he bounced back in the men's 200m butterfly semi-finals. He had looked as if he could fail to make the final after the heats, but improved to advance to Wednesday's final with the third-fastest time.
Phelps clocked 1:54.85, beaten only by Takeshi Matsuda (1:54.30) and China's Yin Chen (1:54.80). Wu Peng, who has twice beaten Phelps this year over the distance, had the fifth-fastest time.
South African title holder Cameron van der Burgh led the field into the final of the men's 50m breaststroke in 26.90 seconds, edging out Brazilian Felipe Franca da Silva by 0.05 seconds. Norwegian 100m breaststroke champion Alexander Dale Oen had the third-fastest time in 27.33 seconds.
In the women's 200m freestyle semi-finals Fenke Heemskerk from the Netherlands led the way with 1:55.54, followed by defending champion and world record holder Federica Pellegrini, who was 0.88 seconds slower. Australian Kylie Palmer was third-fastest.
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