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Michael Phelps beats Ryan Lochte for gold in 200 IM in their last head-to-head meeting

LONDON — Michael Phelps spent the day thinking about all the things he's doing for the final time at the pool. It turns out that included one last win over Ryan Lochte.

Phelps finally got a gold all his own at his final Olympics.

Adding to an already unprecedented medal collection, he claimed his first individual victory of the Games and helped hand Lochte a double disappointment on his rival's final night in the pool Thursday.

Phelps set the tone from the start in their race with a dominating butterfly leg in the 200-meter individual medley, becoming the first male swimmer to win the same individual event at three straight Olympics. He claimed his 20th career medal — and 16th gold — in 1 minute, 54.27 seconds, just off his winning time in Beijing but still good enough for gold, ahead of Lochte.

When it was done, there wasn't the water-pounding celebration seen so many times from Phelps, just a slight smile as he hung on the lane rope, gazing up at the stands and soaking it all in.

"Going into every call room, I said it's my last semifinal or my last prelim," Phelps said, reflecting on a busy day that included a morning swim, then two more races in the evening. "We're kind of chalking up all the lasts of certain things.

"Once it's all over, it's going to really hit me emotionally."

So a farewell Games that started as a bit of a disappointment — fourth in the 400 IM, with Lochte winning — is looking up. He now has won two golds and two silvers in five races and has two more races to go: the 100 butterfly today and the 400 medley relay Saturday.

Lochte settled for silver in the 200 IM, having split with Phelps in their two head-to-head races in London. "Ryan and I have had a lot of great races," Phelps said. "He has brought the best out of me many times."

Lochte tried to pull off an impressive double 31 minutes apart. The former Gator from Daytona Beach came up short in both races, first fading to bronze in the last 50 meters of the 200 backstroke — in which he was the defending gold medalist — as fellow American Tyler Clary overtook him to win.

"I wanted to get all golds in my events, but you know, it didn't happen," Lochte said. "I'm going to have to live with that and move on and learn from it. Try not to make the same mistakes in the next four years.

"For the most part, I'm pretty satisfied."

Lochte, who intends to keep swimming through Rio in 2016, shook hands with his rival before crawling out of the pool for the last time at these Games. In a symbolic gesture, he tossed his cap and goggles into the crowd, his work done. His final tally: two golds, two silvers, one bronze and a fourth-place finish, impressive but shy of what he had predicted would be "my year."

Rebecca Soni made quite a splash, too, on a night dominated by the Phelps-Lochte showdown. Soni set her second world record in as many days to defend her title in the 200 breaststroke. She finished in 2:19.59, breaking her 2:20.00 set in the semifinals.

Soni raced the clock more than anyone in the water. Japan's Satomi Suzuki took silver, more than a second behind at 2:20.72.

"It's been my goal since I was a little kid to go under 2:20," Soni said. "That's when my coach told me, 'You're going to be the first woman to go under 2:19.' I've been chasing it ever since. I'm just so happy."

Clary rallied on the final lap to pull off the upset of Lochte in an Olympic-record 1:53.41.

Ranomi Kromowidjojo (CRO-mo-wuh-JO-jo) carried on the Dutch tradition of producing top sprinters and prevented a U.S. sweep of the night, taking the 100 freestyle in an Olympic-record 53.00. American Missy Franklin finished fifth and Jessica Hardy last in the eight-woman field.

Michael Phelps beats Ryan Lochte for gold in 200 IM in their last head-to-head meeting 08/02/12 [Last modified: Thursday, August 2, 2012 11:53pm]
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