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BARCELONA, Spain, August 2. THE threepeat club is now up to six members. After Ryan Lochte joined the club earlier this week, Hungary’s Daniel Gyurta made it two this week with a win in the men’s 200-meter breaststroke at the FINA World Championships.
In what proved to be an entertaining race with three different swimmers leading at various turns, Gyurta’s backhalf salted away his third straight world title in the event with the second-fastest time ever in 2:07.23. He split the race 29.35, 1:02.54 (33.19), 1:34.87 (32.33), 2:07.23 (32.36), having fallen to seventh at the 100-meter mark.
His time tonight clipped the meet record of Christian Sprenger (2:07.31) from 2009, and Gyurta’s European record 2:07.28 from his win at the 2012 London Olympics. The only faster swim belongs to Japan’s Akihiro Yamaguchi with his global mark of 2:07.01 from the Japanese National Sports Festival in September 2012.
With the win, Gyurta joined Lochte, Michael Phelps, Ian Thorpe, Grant Hackett and Aaron Peirsol with three straight victories in an event at Worlds. Phelps did it in three separate events, while Hackett won the 1500 free four straight times.
Tonight was supposed to be the first big head-to-head matchup between the two previous world-record holders in the event, but Yamaguchi could not stand up to the bright lights as he wound up taking seventh overall with a 2:09.57. The youngster has some time to gear up before the next big showdown.
Germany’s Marco Koch collected second-place honors with a 2:08.54, slower than his 11th-ranked lifetime best of 2:08.33 from 2008, while Finland’s Matti Mattson became his country’s first world medalist since Hanna-Maria Seppala in 2003 here in Barcelona as he clocked a 2:08.95. He briefly led at the 100-meter mark with a 1:01.91, but faded a bit down the stretch.
Great Britain’s Andrew Willis went out hard, under world-record pace at the 50 with a 29.02, but was unable to hold up as he wound up dropping to fourth in 2:09.13. Teammate Michael Jamieson clocked a fifth-place time of 2:09.14 just behind.
Russia’s Viatcheslav Sinkevich (2:09.34) and Japan’s Ryo Tatieshi (2:10.28) also vied for the championship title this evening as part of the finale.