IRVINE, Calif. (AP) — Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps, a couple of Olympic champions on the comeback trail, got a step closer to finding their form.
Lochte beat Phelps to win the 200-meter individual medley at the U.S. national championships Sunday night, leaving Phelps winless in four races at his biggest meet since coming out of retirement.
They weren’t in their usual lanes in the center of the pool. Those spots go to the fastest qualifiers.
Lochte was in lane two and Phelps was in lane six. They couldn’t see each other either, with Phelps breathing toward the stands and Lochte the other way.
Still, the race came down to the two old rivals, with Phelps chasing Lochte for a change.
Lochte, the world champion, led all the way and touched in 1 minute, 56.50 seconds. He is coming off major knee surgery, and had a setback at a meet in April, all of which limited his time in the water.
“This year has been up and down, but I’m glad I got a win knowing that I really haven’t done the work I wanted to,” he said. “I always relied on my training, but this year I haven’t done that training so my confidence was low.”