Ryan Lochte (USA) ensured that teammate Aaron Peirsol did not match East German Roland Matthes's double double of backstroke victories by taking down the world record in the 200m backstroke in 1:53.94. The first sub-1:54 effort helped Lochte reclaim the world record for his own, Peirsol having joined him on a 1:54.32 at US trials in Omaha on July 4.
Peirsol took silver in 1:54.33, the bronze going to Arkady Vyatchanin (RUS) in 1:54.93. The Russian, who had held the continental standard at 1:55.44, raced in lane 8 on the outside, and inside world record pace at 50m (26.90), 100m (55.34), 150m (1:24.83) before succumbing to the Americans on the way home.
Lochte now has two gold medals, one from the 4x200m freestyle relay, and a bronze, from the 400m medley. An add note from later on in the morning: he also added a bronze in the 200m medley behind Phelps and 0.1sec behind Cseh.
After the backstroke, Lochte said: "I'm really glad. That was my first individual gold." After he returned to the water in the medley final and put in an extraordinary performance, Lochte earned praise from Phelps, who said: "That's an incredible day for him. I'm glad to see him get his first gold. It's a cool moment. I thought he had it in him."
Lochte, 23, thwarted Peirsol's bid to repeat his backstroke double of Athens. Peirsol was champion in the 100m in 52.54 but in a repeat of Melbourne 2007, he succumbed in the 200m. "I gave it my all, and I couldn't have really asked for more today," Peirsol said. "This is all about how each athlete races on any given day, there was no exception today. I gave it my all. I was proud of how hard I tried - no regrets." Quite right too. What a fabulous career - one of the biggest ever.