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U.S. Swimming: Ryan Lochte, Michael Phelps 1-2 in 400 IM qualifying

June 25, 2012|By Bill Shaikin
  • Ryan Lochte competes Monday in the men's 400-meter individual medley at CenturyLink Center in Omaha.
Ryan Lochte competes Monday in the men's 400-meter individual medley… (Jamie Squire / Getty Images )

OMAHA -- Michael Phelps owns the world record in the 400-meter individual medley, but that was four years ago. Ryan Lochte posted the fastest time in Monday morning's qualifying heat, four seconds faster than Phelps.

Lochte, Phelps and Tyler Clary each won qualifying heats, setting up an intriguing final Monday night. Lochte won his heat in 4:10.66, Phelps his in 4:14.72, Clary his in 4:15.88.

The top two make the Olympic team.

"I know I have to be a lot faster tonight," Lochte said.

Phelps' world-record time is 4:03.84. Lochte said Phelps' heat time offered no evidence as to how the finals would go.

"I think that is the easiest 4:14 he's ever done," Lochte said, "the easiest that I've ever seen in the entire world."

Clary's time was bettered not only by Lochte and Phelps but by Chase Kalisz, an 18-year-old teammate of Phelps at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club. Kalisz, swimming in the same heat as Phelps, finished with a personal record of 4:15.78.

"I know people are intimidated swimming next to him," Kalisz said. "I think it's a benefit. I know where I need to be -- behind him, obviously, but near him."

Phelps called his performance "all right."

Said Phelps: "The first 200 was kind of meh, the breaststroke was there, and then I saw Chase. I knew I couldn't let him be anywhere close."

Clary had predicted Phelps would not enter this event. That Phelps did so could cost Clary a spot on the Olympic team.

"That did come as a surprise, but it doesn't change my game plan," Clary said. "It will definitely be a more interesting race."

Clary said his mission did not change with Phelps in the race.

"It could be the greatest swimmer in the world, or it could be some 15-year-old just coming out and having a great year," Clary said. "Doesn't matter."

Clary said he was "kind of chilling out" in the final 100 meters of his race. But he did not appear as relaxed as Phelps, who forgot the correct swim cap and had to race with a plain white cap.

"I had another cap, but I didn't have the right size," Phelps said. "I had to use a medium normal."

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