Aggressive Kitajima falls short in bid for 200m gold

Kyodo, AP

Kosuke Kitajima faded in the last 25 meters to settle for silver in the 200-meter breaststroke and compatriot Ryosuke Irie finished a distant second behind U.S. star Ryan Lochte in the 200 backstroke at the FINA World Swimming Championships Friday.

Kitajima was ahead of the world record pace by 0.11 at the 100-meter mark and by 0.27 at the final turn before being overtaken near the finish by Hungary’s Daniel Gyurta, who clocked 2 minutes, 8.41 seconds for his second gold in the event in as many worlds.

Kitajima finished in 2:08.63, followed by Christian Vom Lehn of Germany in 2:09.06 at the Oriental Sports Center.

“I just went all out from the start and tried to see how long I could last,” Kitajima said. “I have no regrets. This is the first time in a while I have nothing left after a race. I didn’t think I could swim like this and have a strong race in the 200 meters just days after a poor swim in the 100 final. I’m glad I came back to give it my all in the 200.”

The two-time double Olympic breaststroke champion, swimming at the world championships for the first time since the 2007 meet in Melbourne, finished fourth in the 100, won by Norway’s Alexander Dale Oen, earlier this week.

“I’m glad to win,” Gyurta said. “I did a lot of practice for the final. I knew I had to push myself. He (Kitajima) is a good swimmer, but I think I will match him in the London Olympics. I respect him. Both him and I are the best swimmers.”

In the 200-meter backstroke final, Irie allowed U.S. star Ryan Lochte to lead from start to finish for his third gold medal of the Shanghai meet.

Lochte stopped the clock at 1:52.96 seconds. Irie was more than a full second behind the 2010 FINA swimmer of the year with 1:54.11 for his second silver in the 200 in as many worlds.

Tyler Clary of the United States took the bronze with 1:54.69.

“I never imagined I would have to fight for second place,” said Irie. “I did what I had to do and had my season-best time. Ryan was just better than I was.

“This silver is as frustrating as that of two years ago.”

Lochte led Irie by 0.40 at the half-way turn and increased the lead to 0.89 at the 150-meter wall, leaving the 21-year-old Japanese too wide a margin to make up in the last 50.

Earlier in the meet, Lochte won the 200 free and 200 individual medley — relegating Michael Phelps to silver twice. He also set a world record in the 200 IM — the only world mark in swimming since high-tech bodysuits were banned 19 months ago.

Lochte has five medals in all, also earning a bronze in the 4×100 free relay on the opening night of what has turned out to be a stellar competition for the Floridian. He’ll also be favored in the 400 IM and could swim the medley relay on the final night of competition Sunday.

Among other Japanese swimmers, Rie Kaneto (2:25.36) came in fifth in the women’s 200-meter breaststroke final, won by American Rebecca Soni (2:21.47).

The silver went to Russia’s Yuliya Efimova (2:22.22) and the bronze to Canada’s Martha McCabe (2:24.81).

Yuka Kato qualified for the women’s non-Olympic 50 butterfly final with the fifth-fastest time of 26.07, matching her own national record.