Olympics, Swimming:Flash Ryan Lochte Claims Epic Battle Against Aaron Peirsol With 200 Back World Record

By John Lohn

BEIJING, China, August 15. IT was billed as a clash of the titans and it certainly turned out that way. Battling over four laps, Ryan Lochte and Aaron Peirsol went head-to-head in their latest duel in the 200 backstroke, with Lochte emerging as latest round winner and with a world-record time and gold medal as his rewards.

Tied with Peirsol at the 150-meter mark, where both men sat behind Russian Arkady Vyatchanin, Lochte split 28.88 for his final lap to finish in 1:53.94, faster than the world record he shared with Peirsol at 1:54.32. Last month at the United States Olympic Trials in Omaha, Lochte finished second to Peirsol. Really, it's one the best event-rivalries in the sport.

With the final of the 200 individual medley later in the night, Lochte was contesting one of the toughest doubles in Olympic swimming history, a mere 29 minutes separating his events. Peirsol, meanwhile, earned the silver medal in 1:54.33, grabbing his second medal of the Games. He earlier won the 100 back in world-record time.

"That's the theme of the meet," Peirsol said. "You've got to break a world record to win. I gave it my all. I had nothing left. Ryan handed me a great race. I have no regrets. It really doesn't take anything away from my career. A race is a race. You can get beat. No one owns anything."

Vyatchanin, who shared the bronze medal in the 100 back, held on for the bronze again as he went a European record of 1:54.93 to hold off Austria's Markus Rogan, the silver medalist in Athens. Rogan was timed in 1:55.49. Japan's Ryosuke Irie was next in 1:55.72 and Aussie Hayden Stoeckel was sixth in 1:56.39. The last two positions went to Romanian Razvan Florea (1:56.52) and Great Britain's Gregor Tait (1:57.00).