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Ryan Lochte Beats Michael Phelps, Sets World Record, Rules Pool At World Championships

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Here is Yahoo! blogger Chris Chase's concise description of Gators great Ryan Lochte:

There's no more question about it: Ryan Lochte is the best swimmer in the world.

That's the unavoidable conclusion after the events of the 2011 World Championships so far. Lochte has dominated, upsetting Michael Phelps — only the most decorated Olympic swimmer, um, ever — in the 200 individual medley and setting a world record at 1:54:00, topping the previous mark by a tenth of a second and setting one of the few new world records since the end of the high-performance suit era.

"I wanted to do something that everyone thought was impossible," Lochte said. "Since they banned the suits, everyone thought a world record wouldn't get touched again. I wanted to show everyone that it can happen.

Impossible? Not for Lochte, not at this moment. And there could be more to come.

This may be the finest performance of Lochte's career so far. Given his four medals in Beijing in 2008, that's saying something, but Lochte's turned his rivalry with Phelps on its head, set an unexpected world record, won gold in the 200 freestyle, and set himself up nicely in one of his best events, the 200 backstroke.

Lochte won four golds at the 2009 World Championships, but his two individual golds came in events without Phelps, and his two other gold medals came as part of a team effort with Phelps. Now, in Shanghai, he's escaping the shadow of maybe the greatest swimmer in history — and, at the very least, setting up one hell of a showdown for the crown at the 2012 Olympics in London.