OMAHA, Neb. — Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte did their part.
The longtime rivals are headed to another showdown at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials.
Phelps and Lochte cruised through the semifinals of the 200-meter individual medley Thursday night, each of them winning their heats in dominating fashion.
Nathan Adrian, meanwhile, wasn’t dominant, but he’ll defend his 100m freestyle gold in Rio. Unfortunately, Missy Franklin missed her chance to compete in another 100m free at the Olympics.
Lochte is on the verge of his first individual Rio berth. The 11-time Olympic medalist so far has only qualified in the 4x100m relay.
“It means a lot,” Lochte said. “I’ve been racing him in this event since like 2003. He’s a tough competitor. I just love racing against him because it’s a challenge.”
Slowed by a groin injury, the 31-year-old Lochte missed out in the 400 IM — a race he won at the Olympics four years ago — finished fourth in the 200 freestyle, and dropped out of the 200 backstroke.
Though also entered in the 100 butterfly, Lochte is basically putting all his hopes on the 200 IM. A top-two finish will give him that cherished spot, but he really wants a win over Phelps in Friday night’s final before they head to the Olympics.
“I’m feeling better as far as like mentally, but physically I’m getting tired,” Lochte said. “Tomorrow night will definitely be a good battle between me and Michael.”
Lochte was the top qualifier at 1 minute, 56.71 seconds, while Phelps took the second spot in 1:57.61. That means they’ll be right beside each other in the final, just as they’ve been so many times during their dazzling careers.
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