Chalk one up for Michael Phelps.
After falling to Ryan Lochte in the 400 IM on Monday night at the Olympic Swim Trials, Phelps found himself back in the winner’s circle on Wednesday after holding off Lochte in the finals of the 200-meter freestyle to earn his second spot in the London Olympics.
Just like Lochte following his victory in the 400 IM, Phelps wasn’t exactly doing cartwheels after holding off his fiercest competitor.
“It’s OK,” Phelps said, “but there is still a lot to be fixed. … In my eyes, 1:45.70 is not going to make the medal podium” in London.
Phelps touched just ahead of Lochte who finished only five-hundredths of a second behind with a time of 1:45.75.
Phelps coach, Bob Bowman, had an interesting take on the race following his swimmer’s victory.
“Ryan and Michael, when they are next to each other, they are so focused on racing each other they do stuff like tonight and not take it out fast,” Bowman said, “because tonight Michael got out a little ahead, right, so he thinks, ‘I’m ahead of Ryan, so I’m doing fine.’ And Ryan is like, ‘I’m just going to stay close enough so I can make my move.’
“He makes his move, they do the cat and mouse, and who can out-touch each other, and in the process of that, they forgot to swim fast.”
While swimming fast is obviously important, it doesn’t matter how fast you go as long as you finish in the top two spots, which both Phelps and Lochte did on Wednesday.
Phelps, even if wanted too, didn’t have much time to celebrate his victory over Lochte. Just 40 minutes after the 200 meter freestyle, he was back in the pool competing in the semifinals for the 200 butterfly.
He finished third in the heat which was plenty good enough to qualify him for Thursday nights finals.
As for the Lochte-Phelps battles yet to come, they could potentially face each other three more times in the 200 IM, 200 backstroke, and 100 fly, depending what each chooses to do. But that’s just in Omaha.
The real battles are still a few weeks away.