OMAHA, Nebraska - Agence France-Presse
Ryan Lochte is expected to be the greatest threat against Michael Phelps, who will be seeking to add to his medal tally in London Games.AFP photo
Ryan Lochte downed Michael Phelps in the men’s 400m medley at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials on June 25 in a race that gave a glimpse of the fireworks they could produce at the London Games.
Lochte seized control on the breaststroke leg and held on to beat Phelps for the first time in the punishing four-stroke event.
Lochte won in 4 minutes 7.06 seconds, while Phelps, the world record-holder and two-time Olympic champion, was second, booking an Olympic berth in 4:07.89.
Tyler Clary, the World Championships silver medalist behind Lochte in Shanghai last year as Phelps opted out of the event, was the odd man out.
He finished third in 4:09.92, but only the top two finishers in each event in the eight-day meeting make the Olympic team.
Lochte, beaten by Phelps in nine prior 400m medley clashes dating back to 2002, said he wasn’t trying to make a statement against the 14-time Olympic gold medallist.
“I wanted to win,” he said. “I wanted to get on the Olympic team. Now I can just do what I love to do, have fun and race.”
By qualifying in the 400m medley, Phelps gives himself a chance to become the first male swimmer to win the same event at three straight Games - although it’s clear he’ll have his work cut out to beat Lochte.
“That time was not good at all,” Lochte said. “I know I’m capable of going faster.”
Phelps will also be favored to punch his ticket in four other individual events, the 100m and 200m butterfly, the 200m free and 200m medley, all of which he won in Beijing.
If he swam all three relays, he could again have an eight-event schedule in London.
Now, however, Phelps will face tough competition from Lochte.