Phelps gets Lochte again, winning 200 IM
OMAHA, Neb. — Michael Phelps 2, Ryan Lochte 1.
In their most stirring duel of the U.S. Olympic trials, Phelps and Lochte went stroke for stroke in the 200-meter individual medley Saturday night, the world’s two greatest swimmers never more than inches apart.
But Phelps led at every turn, and he really turned it on at the end to edge Lochte with a time of 1 minute, 54.84 seconds — nine-hundredths ahead of the runner-up and the fastest time in the world this year.
“It feels good to be back on that side, but I’m sure that’s not going to be the end of us going back and forth,” Phelps said. “I’m just happy to be able to have a good race like that, kind of fold it all together.”
For Phelps, it was an emphatic message on his 27th birthday that he intends to turn his last Olympics into another major medal haul. For Lochte, it was a gutsy performance coming just a half-hour after he won the grueling 200 backstroke.
“The best thing about swimming is racing and stepping up against the world’s best,” Lochte said, not looking all that tired before he returned for his third race of the night, the semifinals of the 100 butterfly.
Lochte finished third in his heat and set up one last race with Phelps today.
Phelps, the two-time defending Olympic champion in the 100 fly, advanced to the final with the another fastest time of 2012, powering away to win his heat in 51.35. Lochte tied for the sixth-fastest time in the semifinals (52.47), but this isn’t one of his specialties. He’d need to pull a big upset to earn another Olympic event.
In other events on the sixth night of the trials, Jessica Hardy made up for the disappointment of missing out on the Beijing Games because of a failed drug test, winning the 100 freestyle. Seventeen-year-old Missy Franklin moved a step closer to having a seven-event program in London, finishing second behind Hardy in 54.15, while 11-time Olympic medalist Natalie Coughlin missed out on her last realistic chance at an individual Olympic race.
“That was all my heart in that race right there,” said Hardy, who won with a time of 53.96.
Coughlin did make her third Olympics with a sixth-place finish in the 100-meter freestyle, giving her a chance to win a record-tying 12th Olympic medal in London in the 400 freestyle relay. But, at best, she would probably only get a morning swim at these games, a far cry from the six medals she won in China.
The torch has been passed to a new generation. Franklin also led the semifinals of the women’s 200 backstroke, posting a time of 2:07.91. If she can finish strong today she’ll have four individual events and all three relays on her Olympic agenda.
“The goal coming in was to make the team,” Franklin said. “I could have never dreamed of doing seven events and the fact it’s a possibility is unbelievable. But I’ve made the team, that’s all that matters. Tomorrow is my favorite event and I can’t wait to get out there and have fun with it.”
Rebecca Soni locked up a second individual race in London, cruising to an easy win in the 200 breaststroke, winning with the fastest time in the world this year, 2: 21.13.
Micah Lawrence is heading to the Olympics for the first time, taking second place in 2:23.03. But 30-year-old Amanda Beard missed out on making a fifth Olympic team, fading to sixth (2:26.42).
Lochte got started on his busy night by winning the 200 back. The 27-year-old Floridian won with a time of 1:54.54.
Tyler Clary took the second spot in 1:54.88 .
He has bounced back just fine from the disappointment of finishing third behind Lochte and Phelps in the 400 IM.
Phelps and Lochte are both assured of at least four individual events in London, and it would take a major upset for Phelps to miss out on a spot in the 100 fly.
At the start of the evening, Anthony Ervin was the top qualifier in the 50 freestyle semifinals with a time of 21.74. Nathan Adrian and Cullen Jones, who went 1-2 in the 100 free the previous night, also advanced to the Sunday final.
After going fastest in the morning prelims, the 31-year-old Ervin turned in another blistering performance from the middle lane. Never lifting his head, he went from one end of the pool to the other in 21.74 seconds, tied for the third-quickest time in the world this year.
“That was a best time,” Ervin said. “That’s what it’s always about in swimming: chasing that best time.”
Adrian tied with Josh Schneider for the second spot (21.81). Jones was next in 22.08.
“I’m happy with that,” Adrian said. “Nothing spectacular, but I think we’ve got some left in the tank.”
Ervin was co-gold medalist in the 50 free at the 2000 Sydney Olympics but retired from swimming before he got a chance to defend his title. He returned to the pool last year.
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