Lochte tops Phelps in 200 IM, 100 free heats in Arizona
MESA, Ariz. (AP) Ryan Lochte topped Michael Phelps twice in qualifying for the 200-meter individual medley and 100 freestyle Saturday at an Arizona meet.
Lochte was the fastest qualifier for the evening finals in both events. He was timed in 2 minutes, 1.03 seconds in the IM and 49.88 seconds for the 100 free.
"They're solid times. I didn't really hold anything back," said Lochte, who is fighting a cold. "I was kind of hoping that the coach would be like, 'Oh, you can scratch for tonight. You did good.' But no, I have to swim both."
Phelps qualified fifth for the IM in 2:04.16 3.13 seconds behind Lochte and sixth in the 100 free at 50.15 0.27 seconds behind his longtime rival. He'll have about a 25-minute turnaround between events at night, something he handled easily during his historic run to eight gold medals at the 2008 Olympics.
It's not quite the same now.
Phelps is back after serving a six-month suspension from USA Swimming for his second drunken driving arrest. He's competing in his first meet since last August and finding out he's in better physical shape but lacking his usual racing instincts.
"Those first couple strokes in that 100 felt like I was out for a Sunday stroll," he said.
That was when he realized with dismay: "These guys are stepping on the gas maybe I got to start going."
"I'm just going to try and fire two races up and whatever happens," Phelps added. "That's what it is. Not be too hard on myself and just try to learn as much as I can from this."
Lochte is tuning up for the world championships in Russia in August.
"My times aren't spectacular, but I know my effort and my overall attitude toward swimming is perfect," Lochte said. "I'm happy where I'm at right now, and hopefully I get better and better as time goes on."
Phelps has been banned from that event as part of his punishment by the sport's U.S. governing body. He's planning a busy meet schedule to make up for it.
Phelps won the 100 butterfly Thursday but failed to make the 400 free final Friday.
Someone asked him what happened, and he said, "The second 200 actually felt about the same as the first. I just didn't move. I just wasn't going anywhere the second 200."
Olympian Conor Dwyer promises to be a factor in the 200 IM and 100 free evening finals. He was second-quickest in qualifying for the IM in 2:02.20 and third-fastest in the freestyle at 50.00.
Lochte and Emmanuel Vanluchene of Belgium were the only men to go under 50 seconds in the 100 free heats. Vanluchene touched in 49.93.
Natalie Coughlin, a 12-time Olympic medalist, led the way in the women's 100 free at 54.18. At 32, she's the oldest swimmer in the final. She didn't qualify for world championships, so her route to a possible berth in the Rio Olympics will go through Toronto at this summer's Pan American Games.
Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace of the Bahamas, the 50 free winner, qualified third.
Olympian Tyler Clary qualified first in the 200 backstroke at 2:00.66.
Veteran Olympians Katinka Hosszu of Hungary and Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe will double up at night, facing each other in the 200 IM and 200 back.
Hosszu qualified first in the IM at 2:13.28; Coventry was fourth. They went 1-2 in the back prelims, with Hosszu first at 2:11.79 and Coventry next in 2:12.29.