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BARCELONA, Spain, August 1. IT’s going to be tough to beat the Americans in the men’s 200-meter backstroke after Tyler Clary and Ryan Lochte produced a 1-2 effort in semis at the FINA World Championships.
1994. That’s the last time an American did not win this event, with the likes of Lenny Krayzelburg (1998), Aaron Peirsol (2001, 2003, 2005, 2009) and Lochte (2007, 2011) all spending them time at the top of the podium during the streak that dates back to Russia’s Vladimir Selkov winning against Martin Lopez-Zubero in 1994. The streak does not look in jeopardy.
Reigning Olympic champion Tyler Clary turned in a strong 1:55.16 to top semis this evening. That’s the third-fastest time this year, and Clary should have another gear saved up for the finale. Lochte, who doubled off his win in the 200-meter IM earlier in the evening, clocked a 1:55.88 to qualify second. Lochte has been faster this year with a 1:55.16 at U.S. Nationals, and could dip pretty low to secure another world title.
Japan’s Ryosuke Irie, who currently leads the world with a 1:54.72 from a meet in Sydney earlier this year, wound up qualifying third in 1:56.14. He’s looking for a breakthrough swim after two consecutive runner-up finishes in the distance dorsal behind Peirsol and Lochte.
Poland’s Radoslaw Kawecki (1:56.14), Japan’s Kosuke Hagino (1:56.24), China’s Xu Jiayu (1:56.42), Great Britain’s Craig McNally (1:56.97) and Hungary’s Peter Bernek (1:57.37) will give chase to the favorites in the finale.