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Lochte closes out championships with fifth gold

Former Gator Ryan Lochte swims to gold in the 400-meter individual medley and says he can improve his times.

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Former Gator Ryan Lochte swims to gold in the 400-meter individual medley and says he can improve his times.

SHANGHAI — Former Gator Ryan Lochte captured his fifth gold medal on the final day of the world swimming championships with a performance that may help him stake a claim to being the best in his sport.

Lochte, who beat his teammate Michael Phelps in two finals last week, easily won the 400-meter individual medley Sunday in 4:07.13.

Phelps, who has dominated swimming for more than a decade, was overshadowed by Lochte but seemed to return to form after a disappointing 2010.

In the last major international competition before the 2012 London Olympics, Phelps won four golds and seven medals overall. On Sunday, he led the U.S. relay team to a come-from-behind victory in the 4x100 medley.

The American team dominated the championships, winning 16 gold medals and 29 overall.

"I'm glad this meet's over. It's been a long, long eight days," said Lochte, named the event's top male. "Getting five gold medals is definitely great. The times I went, I know I can go faster."

Despite his success, Lochte, who grew up in Port Orange near Daytona Beach, seemed unwilling even to suggest that he was ready to succeed Phelps as the best U.S. swimmer: "I don't think I'm the top dog."

"I'm fairly satisfied," Phelps said. "This is 2011, it's not 2012. And it's not the Olympic Games. We have 12 months to prepare."

Emerging Chinese star Sun Yang, 19, broke the oldest world record in the sport — Australian great Grant Hackett's 10-year-old mark in the 1,500 meters.

Sun, more than two seconds off Hackett's pace with four laps to go, accelerated on the final two laps to finish in 14 minutes, 34.14 seconds. Hackett set his mark of 14:34.56 at the 2001 worlds.

Gator sophomore Elizabeth Beisel won gold in the 400-meter individual medley (4:31.78) by more than two seconds.

"My strategy is really just not to worry too much,'' she said. "It was a very good surprise.''

Two years after winning two golds at the world championships in Rome, the U.S. women got three from newcomer Missy Franklin, 16, and took home eight.

Lochte closes out championships with fifth gold 07/31/11 [Last modified: Sunday, July 31, 2011 9:56pm]
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