Lochte sets pace for 200 IM final

AFP-JIJI

Ryan Lochte came out on top in another semifinal tussle with Michael Phelps on Friday at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials as he set himself up for a tilt at a 200-meter backstroke-medley double.

Lochte settled for bronze in the 200 medley at the Beijing Olympics behind Phelps and Hungary’s Laszlo Cseh, but has since claimed the world record and beat Phelps at last year’s world championships in China.

He signaled his intentions for the final with a victory over Phelps in the first semifinal in 1 minute, 55.51 seconds — the fastest time in the world this year.

Phelps was second, and second-fastest overall into the final, in 1:56.66.

The clash was part of a busy night for Lochte, who led the way into the final of the 200 backstroke in 1:55.73.

“I knew he kind of took off, so . . . I probably should save something for tomorrow,” Phelps said. “I kind of shut it down once the race was kind of over.”