Ryan Lochte, left, shakes hands with Michael Phelps during the medal ceremony… (Mark Humphrey / Associated…)
OMAHA — Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte stood atop the awards podium, awaiting the medals that would signify just how fast they were.
Amid the music, the lights and the celebration of two more entries in London, Lochte turned to Phelps and basically said: Dude, we're too slow.
Phelps won Round 2 of America's greatest swimming rivalry Wednesday, beating Lochte by five-hundredths of a second in the 200-meter freestyle. Lochte edged Phelps on Monday in the 400 individual medley, with as many as four more duels possible by the end of the U.S. Olympic trials.
Phelps won eight gold medals in the 2008 Olympics to become a household name. Lochte has repeatedly proclaimed this time as "my time," yet Phelps served notice his time had not passed.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday, July 03, 2012 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 News Desk 1 inches; 38 words Type of Material: Correction
Swimming: An article in the June 28 Sports section identified both Breeja Larson and Missy Franklin as the winner of the 100 breaststroke at the U.S. Olympic trials. Larson won the 100 breaststroke; Franklin won the 100 backstroke.
"We're going to have a lot of races like that," Phelps said, "and probably a couple more this week."
Phelps and Lochte were the headline story Wednesday, but not the best one. After all, victory surprises neither one.
These trials are not even half over, but the undisputed surprise of this meet emerged Wednesday. The USA Swimming media guide featured biographies of 77 swimmers rated as top contenders in the trials.
Breeja Larson was not one of those 77. She never had swum in the trials. And yet she upset world champion Rebecca Soni and world-record holder Jessica Hardy to win the 100 breaststroke, even if she did not quite believe it.
She touched the wall and glanced at the scoreboard, her mouth agape. She scampered to the stands to hug her Texas A&M coaches and teammates.
Most of all, she relished the chance to get to know all her Olympic teammates, all the top swimmers she has admired from afar.
"I want to introduce myself, but I don't want to be a fan," she said. "My coach always tells me, 'Don't be a fan.'
"Now I get to meet them, and I'm really excited."
Matt Grevers, whose February marriage proposal to fellow swimmer Annie Chandler has attracted more than 2.7 million views on YouTube, won the men's 100 backstroke. Teen sensation Missy Franklin won the women's 100 breaststroke.
And then there were Phelps and Lochte, who raced virtually side by side for the entire 200 freestyle. Phelps led Lochte by less than one-tenth of second at 50 meters, at 100, at 150 and at the end.
Phelps' winning time was 1:45.70, the third-fastest time in the world this year but a second and a half slower than his winning time in the 2008 trials and almost three seconds slower than his winning time in the 2008 Olympics.
"I was pretty upset with the time," Phelps said.
Lochte told Phelps atop the podium that the two would have to go out faster in London. Phelps readily agreed, saying the two often play "a cat and mouse game."
As the two best swimmers, they tend to keep an eye on each other.
"In the process of that, they forget to swim fast," said Bob Bowman, Phelps' coach.
Phelps swam fast enough to win. After he descended from the awards podium, the in-house interviewer reminded the 26-year-old Phelps that he has become the first male swimmer to qualify for four consecutive Olympics.
"I feel old," he said.