OMAHA, Neb. — The first event of the U.S. Olympic swimming trials produced a huge stunner, as Ryan Lochte failed to qualify for the team Sunday night in an event he won at the 2012 London Games.
The former Gator standout raced out to a big lead on the first two legs of the 400-meter individual medley but had nothing left for the breaststroke and freestyle. After the race, Lochte revealed he pulled a groin muscle during the morning preliminaries and had no choice other than to try to build a commanding lead in the butterfly and backstroke and hope it would hold up.
Chase Kalisz won in 4 minutes, 9.541 seconds, while Jay Litherland rallied to take the second spot for Rio in 4:11.021.
Lochte, his legs gone, labored home in third at 4:12.021.
"I had to go out faster than usual because I couldn't use my legs in the breaststroke," said Lochte, 31, who still has several other events to claim his spot on his fourth Olympic team — assuming he can overcome his injury. "I did everything I could in that race, it just wasn't enough. Just got to forget about that and move forward."
While college teammates Kalisz and Litherland celebrated, Lochte hung on a lane rope, exhausted. He finally made it over to the side of the pool, struggling just to climb out of the water. He said he got a cortisone shot to help deal with the pain.
"I'm going to keep working on it day in and day out, and hopefully it gets better," Lochte said. "I thought about it (Sunday) morning, about scratching, but I mean, it's the Olympic trials. If I had a broken leg, I'd still go out there and swim."
Michael Phelps, who won the 400 IM at both the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, finished fourth behind Lochte in London and dropped the grueling event from his program. With no races on the first day of the meet, Phelps watched from the stands.
"I wasn't surprised with Jay," Phelps said. "He's like a shark in the water. He knows how to rise to the occasion."
Phelps was especially happy for long-time training partner Kalisz, who like Litherland is heading to his first Olympics.
"He's like a brother to me," Phelps said.
Unaware of Lochte's injury, Phelps said he could tell he had nothing left when he got to the breast. The two freestyle laps were painful to watch, as Lochte closed with a sluggish pace of 1:00.56 — more than 3 seconds slower than the 20-year-old Litherland, who swam with Kalisz at the University of Georgia.
DIVING: David Boudia will dive for another Olympic medal in Rio after winning the men's 10-meter in the U.S. Olympic diving trials in Indianapolis.
The defending Olympic champion in the event won with a total score of 1,534.4 points. Steele Johnson finished second with 1,475.15 points and qualified for his first individual Olympic event. Boudia and Johnson had qualified earlier this week in the synchro 10-meter.
David Dinsmore finished third with 1,463.15 points.
Earlier, Kassidy Cook got a measure of redemption by qualifying for her first U.S. Olympic team in the women's 3-meter. Her good friend Abby Johnston also made the team.
VIRUS PROTECTION: U.S. Olympic rowers will be given a new high-tech training suit with anti-microbial features designed to protect them against water pollution in Rio de Janeiro. Athletics apparel maker Boathouse Sports said the seamless one-piece suit is knitted with an anti-microbial finish. It also has water repellant features to keep the rowers cool and dry. Testing last year found that the lagoon where the rowing and canoeing events will be held was heavily contaminated.
VENUE NEARLY READY: The most troubled venue for the Rio Games — the indoor cycling velodrome — is almost ready to go with the Olympics opening in just less than six weeks. Rio organizers took possession of the building with about 30 mostly Brazilian cyclists spinning around the banked track during a practice session.
DOPING: Olympic Games executive director Christophe Dubi said it's unclear if the suspended anti-doping laboratory for the Rio Olympics can be re-opened before the Games start in less than six weeks.