New York Daily News

Lochte getting fired up

Edges Phelps, set for London


OMAHA, Neb. — When flames lining the pool deck inside CenturyLin­k Center jumped from the six pyrotechni­c banks during the 400-meter individual medley, American swimmer Ryan Lochte was midstroke as he seized the lead in the final of the Olympic trials Monday evening.

“I was like something’s going on,” Lochte said.

The display did not distract Lochte, the defending world champion in what is considered the sport’s most grueling event. He overcame challenges from rival Michael Phelps, the world record holder in the event, finishing in 4 minutes and 7.06 seconds to beat Phelps, who touched the wall at 4:07.89, by less than a body length. Both will represent the United States in London when the Games begin July 27.

“I’m very pleased,” said Phelps, who previously swore off competing in the 400 IM after the Beijing Games in 2008. “I just wanted to put myself in a position to win.”

What was billed as a duel between Lochte and Phelps saw dark horse Tyler Clary claim the lead for a leg, but Lochte eventually took over after the first 200 meters. All three swam toeto-toe, in lanes four through six. Phelps went out to an early push, leading the pack through the opening leg of the butterfly, only to be overtaken by Clary in the backstroke. Lochte stayed back, saving his elevated performanc­e for the strong finish.

Lochte was the top qualifier in morning preliminar­ies with a time of 4:10.66. Phelps was next-fastest, cruising through in 4:14.72. Tyler Clary was fourth-fastest at 4:15.88.

Lochte, previously signed up for the 400-meter freestyle, lightened his load, choosing to train his attention on the 400 IM earlier in the day. He watched Phelps race in the preliminar­y heat before him and recognized an ease to Phelps’ effort.

Lochte, who won the bronze medal when Phelps took gold in the event during the 2008 Olympics, maintained that he knew Phelps would come faster at night.

“That’s the easiest 4:14 he’s ever done,” Lochte said. “It’s definitely going to be a dog fight.”

Phelps, the 14-time Olympic gold medalist, played coy about his involvemen­t in the medley leading in. He refused to reveal whether or not he would partake until the final scratch lists were submitted Sunday evening. He arrived in Omaha wearing a mustache, but then posted pictures of a shaven face Sunday. Though ready to retire after London, Phelps said he remained hungry for further accomplish­ments.

“It came down to I wanted to do it,” Phelps said. “I was happy to get that first monkey off my back and the first frustratio­ns out.”

Phelps leaned over the rope between lanes to congratula­te Lochte at the end of the race. Lochte then seized the stage and placed the medal around his mother’s neck. Flames gave way to camera flashes.

“I’m ready to tear it up in London,” Lochte said.

 ?? Photo by Getty ?? Ryan Lochte is London-bound after edging Michael Phelps in 400-meter medley at Olympic swimming trials.
Photo by Getty Ryan Lochte is London-bound after edging Michael Phelps in 400-meter medley at Olympic swimming trials.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States