Thursday, February 22, 2018
Sports

Ryan Lochte edges Michael Phelps in 400 IM at trials; both clinch spots in London Olympics

OMAHA, Neb. — Ryan Lochte still has Michael Phelps' number.

But Phelps has put himself in position to go for another eight gold medals at the London Olympics.

Lochte, a former college star at Florida, won his latest showdown with the most successful Olympian ever, beating Phelps in the 400-meter individual medley at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials Monday night.

In taking the first spot on the Olympic team, Lochte extended his dominance of Phelps that goes back to last year's world championships, where the 27-year-old Floridian won five gold medals and both of his head-to-head races against Phelps.

"The first race is always the hardest," Lochte said. "I can take a deep breath now, relax and whatever happens, happens."

Phelps started strongly on the butterfly leg, his strongest stroke, but Lochte took command when they switched to breaststroke. He built a lead of about half a body length and held off Phelps in the freestyle finish, cruising to the wall with one arm extended to post a time of 4 minutes, 7.06 seconds. He got a kiss from his dad, Steve, as he came off the deck.

Phelps claimed the second Olympic spot in 4:07.89.

"I was very pleased with that," Phelps said. "I said if I went 4:07, I'd be happy."

Tyler Clary, who took second at the 2011 worlds, won't even swim the event in London. He faded to third in 4:09.92 and was so upset he didn't stop for the media in the mixed zone.

Heading to his third Olympics, Lochte is determined to repeat his brilliant performance last year in Shanghai, where he surpassed Phelps as the world's top swimmer.

"I'm definitely ready to tear it up in London and show the world what the USA is all about," Lochte said.

Phelps, who owns a record 14 Olympic gold medals, plans to retire after the London Games.

Clearwater's Robert Margalis made the final but finished eighth.

In other finals on opening night, Peter Vanderkaay became a three-time Olympian by winning the 400 freestyle and Elizabeth Beisel, 19, who also swims for the Gators, earned her second straight trip to the Olympics in the 400 IM.

Vanderkaay won in 3:47.67 and Conor Dwyer took the second spot for London in 3:47.83.

Alex Katz of Tarpon Springs, Nick Alexiou of Clearwater High and Jason Taylor of Plant City and UF were eliminated in the heat races. Lochte pulled out of the event.

Beisel won her event easily in 4:31.74, more than 2 seconds ahead of Caitlin Leverenz.

Becca Mann, 14, of Clearwater finished fifth, in 4:41.61. Taylor Katz of Tarpon Springs and Melanie Margalis of Clearwater were eliminated in the heats.

Dana Vollmer set a U.S. record in the semifinals of the 100 butterfly in 56.42 seconds.

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