OMAHA, Neb. — The first U.S. Olympic swimming trials showdown between Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte came at the edge of a curtained-off interview room, not far from the temporary pool where the event begins Monday.
Phelps rubbed his thick mustache and queried Lochte about his smooth face.
"I had one, but I had to shave it," Lochte said.
"C'mon, man, you've got to keep it as long as you can," Phelps replied, breaking into a big smile beneath all that hair.
The meeting Saturday between swimming's two biggest stars — who are also friends — was downright cordial. Expect it to be different when they get in the water.
Phelps is a 14-time gold medalist trying to put an appropriate finish on his brilliant career at the London Olympics, which begin July 27. (He has said he will retire at Games' end.)
Lochte is the guy standing in Phelps' way, a laid-back Floridian and former Gator who beat Phelps twice at last year's world championships and keeps saying, "This is my time."
"Michael Phelps definitely set the limit," Lochte said. "But, I mean, he's human. He's not a fish or anything like that."
Phelps has already hoarded more gold than any other Olympian, and he has regained the motivation that faded after he toppled Mark Spitz's iconic record by winning eight events at the 2008 Games.
"I'm a lot more relaxed than I've ever been," he said. "We'll see after this week what size cherry I want to put on my sundae."
Lochte has entered a staggering 11 events at the trials, though he surely will drop several of those by tonight's scratch deadline and perhaps use others for training purposes in the preliminaries.
Phelps has entered seven races, including the 400-meter individual medley, potentially setting up his first clash with Lochte, the defending world champion.
Lochte and Phelps will certainly face each other in two of their best events: the 200 IM and the 200 freestyle. Phelps is the defending Olympic champion in both races (a two-time defending champ in the medley). But Lochte took them both at the 2011 worlds, setting a world record in the 200 IM.
diving: David Boudia qualified for his second spot on the U.S. team, winning the men's 10-meter platform at the trials in Federal Way, Wash. He totaled 1,642.40 points over the six-round final, easily defeating platform synchro partner Nick McCrory (1,582.55), who also got his second spot on the team. The duo had already made the team by winning the platform synchro event. Cassidy Krug is going to her first Olympics after winning the women's 3-meter springboard with 1,094.85 points. Christina Loukas earned her second straight Olympic berth by finishing second (1,017.85).
basketball: The Heat's Dwyane Wade said he soon will have his ailing left knee examined and he might need surgery, which would keep him off the U.S. team. USA Basketball plans to have the team convene in Las Vegas for a training camp that starts July 6.
tennis: The Games' tournament will be held at Wimbledon beginning July 28, three weeks after the end of the grasscourt Grand Slam event. The grass will be the same, but Wimbledon's all-white dress code will be waived and Olympic logos will replace the traditional dark green backdrops. "It will be surreal," said 2004 Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova, who completed a career Grand Slam by winning this year's French Open and can become the second woman to claim a career Golden Grand Slam if she wins the Olympics, joining Steffi Graf.