Terakawa nabs silver in women’s 50-meter backstroke

Kyodo, AP

Aya Terakawa took the silver medal in the women’s 50-meter backstroke at the swimming world championships on Thursday.

Terakawa timed 27.93 seconds, finishing a close second behind Russia’s Anastasia Zueva, who touched the wall in 27.79. Melissa Franklin of the United States was in third in 28.01.

“I know I’m not supposed to congratulate myself because I didn’t win,” a teary-eyed Terakawa said. “But I was so happy to see my name in the top three on the board for the first time at the world championships. It felt as good as winning.”

In the men’s 200-meter breaststroke, two-time Olympic champion Kosuke Kitajima advanced to Friday’s final with the fastest semifinal time of 2 minutes, 8.81 seconds.

But his rival Naoya Tomita failed to qualify for the final after placing 12th in 2:11.98.

Also Thursday, Ryan Lochte has not only beaten Michael Phelps in consecutive races, he has taken swimming to record-setting levels.

The laid back American edged Phelps for gold in the 200-meter individual medley, setting swimming’s first world record since high-tech body suits were banned last year.

With Phelps putting pressure on in the final freestyle lap, Lochte sprinted to the wall and touched in 1:54.00 to improve on his record mark of 1:54.10 set at the last worlds in Rome two years ago when polyurethane suits were still in use.

“All I can say is summed up in one word — Yeah!” Lochte said, using his signature phrase. “I knew it was going to be a battle between Michael and I. I got the better end this time.”

Phelps settled for silver in 1:54.16, and Laszlo Cseh of Hungary took bronze in 1:57.69.

“That one frustrated me more than anything,” Phelps said. “I thought I was going to get that one.”

Cseh took silver between Phelps and Lochte in both the 200 and 400 IMs at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, giving him a firsthand look at how Lochte has gained the upper hand.

“I think without Michael, he can’t beat the world record,” Cseh said. “He needs Michael to swim together and race against each other, and I think this is a good thing.”

Lochte also beat Phelps in the 200 freestyle in the opening individual event for both American swimmers on Tuesday. Lochte has two more events, compared to one for Phelps, but they won’t go head-to-head again.

Phelps, who came into this meet with only six months of training, reached out and shook hands with Lochte at the finish.

“He’s really done all the little small things right,” Phelps said. “He has more comfortable speed now than he had before. He’s super focused. He’s just more prepared. Things are always won by people who are most prepared. . . . To go faster than he did in 2009 is incredible.”

Budding Australian standout James Magnussen then won the 100 freestyle, swimming’s signature event. Already dubbed the “The Missile” by Australian media, the 20-year old Magnussen took the lead from Cesar Cielo after 50 meters and touched in 47.63 seconds.

Brent Hayden of Canada took silver in 47.95, and William Meynard of France grabbed the bronze in 48.00. Cielo, who was cleared of doping last week by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, finished fourth.