OMAHA, Nebraska (AFP) –
Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte limbered up for another showdown at the US Olympic swimming trials Friday, both advancing to the semi-finals of the 200m individual medley.
Olympic champion Phelps posted the second-fastest time of the morning (1:59.27) behind Conor Dwyer (1:59.11).
Lochte, facing a demanding 200m backstroke-medley double on Friday, was happy to deliver the fourth-quickest time in the medley, shortly after leading the way into the semi-finals of the 200m back ahead of Tyler Clary and Matt Grevers.
“The 200 back is probably one of the hardest events known to swimming,” said Lochte, the Olympic and world champion and world record-holder in the event.
“It takes all of your legs.”
Lochte and Phelps have had one win apiece in finals this week — Lochte opening the eight-day meet with a victory in the 400m individual medley and Phelps turning the tables in the 200m freestyle.
Lochte had already decided to lighten his load for Friday night by withdrawing from the final of the 100m freestyle.
Grevers, winner of the 100m backstroke on Wednesday, opted to stay in the freestyle final and scratched from the 200m backstroke semi-finals.
He had planned to do it the other way around, but said his coaches had persuaded him to stay in the 100m free.
“I do know a double would hurt me,” said Grevers, who thought claiming an Olympic place in the 200m backstroke featuring Lochte and Clary would be a tall order.
Besides, he wants to at least gain consideration for the 4x100m free relay team.
“I really want to be on that relay,” he said.
Friday’s other final features veterans Eric Shanteau and Brendan Hansen in the men’s 200m breaststroke final, in which Clark Burckle is the top seed.
Olympic and world champion Rebecca Soni notched the fastest time in the heats of the 200m breaststroke, her impressive 2:23.11 almost two seconds faster than Micah Lawrence’s 2:24.95.
Soni had already booked a spot in the 100m breast, but she finished runner-up in that final to unheralded Breeja Larson.
“I definitely wasn’t coming for vengeance,” Soni said. “I was just trying to smooth it out for the morning, I wanted to get a feel for the 200 again.”