BARCELONA, Spain — Wearing fluorescent orange sneakers, Ryan Lochte eased out of his seat and moved gingerly toward the exit of the Palau Sant Jordi.
It was the first time he was slow all night.
“My whole entire body is hurting,” Lochte moaned. “There’s no other way to put it — I’m sore.”
On a night when Missy Franklin finally lost, Lochte turned in an epic performance at the world championships Friday. He swam three races in less than two hours, coming away with two gold medals and the top time in an event he’s competing in for the first time at a major international meet.
Certainly, this grueling triple was worthy of a “Jeah!” — Lochte’s silly catchphrase that echoed through the arena every time he dove in the water.
“Unbelievable,” said no less an authority than Bob Bowman, Michael Phelps’ former coach. “An incredible night of swimming.”
No one could find any record of someone competing in three races in the same session at either the worlds or the Olympics. Phelps, for all his accomplishments, never did it at one of the major international meets.
Bowman was asked where Lochte’s performance ranked in swimming history. He immediately thought of the night in this same arena, a decade ago, when Phelps broke world records in different events on the same night.
“It’s up there with stuff like that,” Bowman said.
Lochte won the 200-meter backstroke, posted the fastest time in the semifinals of the 100 butterfly, and put the Americans ahead to stay with a strong leg in the 800 freestyle relay. Not bad for a guy who took a long break after the London Olympics and slacked off on his training while filming a reality television show, “What Would Ryan Lochte Do?”
Apparently, there’s nothing Lochte can’t do, or at least isn’t willing to try, when he dons a swimsuit.