Lochte beats Phelps to qualify for London
By Julian Linden
OMAHA, Nebraska (Reuters) - Ryan Lochte reaffirmed his status as the world's best all round swimmer when he beat Michael Phelps at the Olympic swimming trials on Monday to book his spot on the American team for London.
Lochte comfortably prevailed in the opening round of his heavyweight clash with Phelps when he won the 400 meters individual medley, slowing down near the end and gliding into the wall in four minutes 07.06 seconds.
Phelps, who had led after the opening butterfly leg but dropped back to third place heading into the final freestyle leg, finished second in 4:07.89, while Tyler Clary, the silver medalist at last year's world championships in Shanghai, came third in 4:09.92. Only the top two go to the Olympics.
"The first race is always the hardest," said Lochte, who already has six Olympic medals, including three gold, from his previous two trips to the Games.
"It feels great to be on the team. Now I can take a deep breath and relax ... I've still got so many events left in this meet."
After winning five gold medals in Shanghai last year to surpass Phelps as swimming's new standardbearer, Lochte is expected to swim in at least six events at London.
Phelps won the 400 medley at each of the past two Olympics and holds the world record at 4:03.84, which he set when he won his record eight gold medals in Beijing.
But the 26-year-old, who had struggled for motivation after the last Olympics, had initially planned to drop the grueling event from his program before having a late change of heart. Continued...