America's Ryan Lochte shattered Michael Phelps and his own world record Thursday as he won a thrilling 200m individual medley at the world championships in Shanghai.
And Australian hotshot James Magnussen lived up to his growing reputation by winning the 100m freestyle sprint courtesy of a lightning close.
Lochte out-dueled Olympic champion Phelps to win the medley in 1min 54.00sec, shaving one tenth of a second off his 2009 world record, with his team-mate taking silver and Hungary's Laszlo Cseh third.
With the win, the 26-year-old Lochte retained his world title and earned further bragging rights over his long-time rival, who is yet to show the form that has earned him 14 Olympic gold medals.
"I knew it was going to be a battle between Michael and I. I got the better end this time," Lochte said. "Any time you break a world record, you've got to be excited. I trained really hard and it paid off."
Phelps enjoyed a slim early lead over the butterfly leg but Lochte, swimming in the adjacent lane, edged it over the backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle sections to win by 0.16sec.
Lochte had already beaten Phelps to win the 200m freestyle title, deepening Phelps's season of woe after he was part of the United States' relay team that lost its six-year grip on the 4x100m relay on day one.
But Phelps stormed back with a dominant win in the 200m butterfly, which is not one of Lochte's events, sealing the 23rd world title of his record-breaking career as the clock ticks down to his retirement next year.
"I felt good and I thought I was a little long at the finish, and that cost me the race," Phelps said.
"I'm a little disappointed but at the same time it's faster than I went in 2008 at the Olympics, so that's a good thing. That one frustrated me more than anything. I thought I was going to get that one but it is what it is."
In the 100m freestyle final, Magnussen was out of the medals at the turn but he roared past the field over the second 50m to take it in 47.63sec ahead of Canada's Brent Hayden and William Meynard of France.
Brazilian defending champion and world record-holder Cesar Cielo, who has been in the firing line after testing positive for a banned diuretic, was fourth.
Earlier, Olympic title-holder Britta Steffen pulled out of the world championships after struggling in the women's 100m freestyle heats, depriving the competition of one of its brightest stars.
The double world and Olympic champion withdrew after scraping into the semi-finals with the lowest qualifying time of 54.86sec, nearly two seconds off her 2009 world record of 52.07.
Steffen, who claimed the 50m and 100m freestyle double at the Beijing Olympics and repeated the feat at the 2009 world championships, was at a loss to explain her poor performance.
"I gave everything -- I had no more to give," she said. "I can't explain it. I was in great shape and very optimistic. I'm in good health.
"I would give you answers if I had them."
Steffen, 27, led Germany to bronze in the 4x100m freestyle relay in her only other performance in Shanghai. She had been due to take part in the 50m freestyle on Saturday.
In Steffen's absence, Britain's Francesca Halsall timed quickest in the semi-finals, ahead of Dutch swimmer Femke Heemskerk and Australian Alicia Coutts.
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