WRITTEN BY SHARON ROBB
August 6, 2010
In what was expected to be the race of the meet turned out to be just that Friday night at the ConocoPhillips Long Course National Championships in Irvine, Calif.
With the crowd on its feet five minutes before the swimmers even marched out to the blocks at the William Woollett Jr. Aquatics Center, world record holder and world champion Ryan Lochte knocked off Olympic teammate Michael Phelps in the 200-meter individual medley for the first time in his career in a major meet.
Lochte, 26, of Daytona Beach, pulled off an amazing double, finishing second in the opening event, the 100-meter freestyle in 48.83 and minutes later beating Phelps, whose world record he broke at the World Championships in Rome.
Lochte, who won the 400 IM on Tuesday in 4:09.98, won the 200 IM 1:54.84. Phelps, 25, was second in 1:55.94.
Going head-to-head against the greatest swimmer of all time in the first meet since the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Lochte, the third fastest qualifier after morning prelims, was masterful with his race strategy. Phelps was the top morning qualifier (1:59.13).
With Lochte swimming in Lane 3 and Phelps in Lane 4, the pair stayed down at the same time before surfacing after the start. Phelps surged slightly ahead with his smooth butterfly stroke to the wall in 24.76 with Lochte just 3/10ths of a second off.
Lochte made a big move off the wall and stayed below the surface longer on the backstroke leg for a slight lead when he surfaced.
Lochte had a 53.54 advantage going into the breaststroke. The two were head-to-head on the breaststroke leg briefly before Lochte surged and moved a half-stroke ahead of Phelps at 1:27.33 at the wall. Considering Lochte hadn’t swum the breaststroke for five months because of knee surgery, his breaststroke surge was a gutsy move.
Lochte took off on the final freestyle leg to extend his lead with Phelps trailing at his knees to clinch the win. Lochte’s time was the fastest in the world this year, fifth fastest IM in the history of the event and fastest in a fabric suit.
Lochte and Phelps are 1-2 on the world right now.
“This feels great,” Lochte said when asked how it felt to beat Phelps for the first time.
“We have been racing this for so long and finally to get a win, it feels good,” Lochte said.
Said Phelps, “I felt like I was standing still 10 meters left in the breaststroke, when he blew past me I know it wasn’t good. Ryan and I are going to go back and forth. We have great races like this when we get in the pool. It’s important for us to bring out the best in each other.
“I felt good the first 100,” Phelps said with a smile. “After that it went downhill. It’s a lack of being in shape. I know what I have to do to get back to where I was.”
For Lochte, who has been coming on strong since knee surgery and training in Gainesville, the victory was another confidence-builder going into the Pan Pacific Championships later this month.
“You never know, anyone can win at any given time, it’s the luck of the draw,” Lochte said. “Like Michael said, we are going to go back and try to improve and get ourselves ready for 2012.”
South Florida Aquatic Club’s Tyler Sell, 18, scratched from the men’s 1500-meter prelims, his fourth and final event of senior nationals. He is scheduled to compete in next week’s Speedo Junior Nationals, also in Irvine, along with teammates Melissa Cooper and Tiffany Oliver.
Chad LaTourette, 21, of Mission Viejo, was the top qualifier in the men’s 1500-meter freestyle prelims in 15:03.75 for Saturday’s final.
In the women’s 800-meter freestyle prelims, Chloe Sutton, 18, of Mission Viejo turned in the fastest qualifying time of 8:30.79 (8:29.25 seed time) for Saturday’s championship finals. Lauren Driscoll, 16, of Fort Lauderdale Aquatics was the seventh fastest qualifier in a career-best 8:40.87. Her previous best was 8:44.42.
Former FGC swimmer Alison Templin, 20, a graduate of Riviera Beach Suncoast now at Arizona, finished 24th in the 800 in a career-best 8:49.60. Her previous best was 8:52.04.
Other Florida Gold Coast results:
Men’s 100-meter freestyle: 47. Jeffrey Raymond, 20, Pine Crest Swimming, 51.33; 116. Michael Saco, 18, Miami Swimming, 53.09.
Women’s 800-meter freestyle: 53. Damaris Iriondo, 17, FLA, 8:57.64.
Men’s 1500-meter freestyle prelims: 16. Joey Pedraza, 23, Davie Nadadores, 15:32.30.
In Friday night’s other final events:
Men’s 100-meter freestyle: California’s Nathan Adrian may be the new sprint king of the U.S. After winning the 50 freestyle, he came back to win the 100 in 48.41 and moved into second in the world. Lochte came on strong in the second half of the race to finish second in 48.83 and Jason Lezak, 34, the top morning qualifier, and Garrett Weber-Gale tied for third in 48.96.
Women 200-meter butterfly: Kathleen Hersey of Longhorn Aquatics held off top morning qualifier Teresa Crippen to defend her title and win in 2:07.00, second fastest time in the world this year. Crippen was second in 2:07.89. “I just wanted to be more aggressive than this morning,” Hersey said. “I was pretty happy with the results.”
Women 200-meter backstroke: In her final shot at making the Pan Pac team, Elizabeth Beisel, 17, of Bluefish Swim Club, the morning top seed (2:10.25), defended her title by more than a second in 2:08.50.
The national championships is following the traditional meet schedule of morning prelims (12 noon EST) and evening finals (9 p.m. EST). The competition will be broadcast by NBC in two shows on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday’s show will air from 4-6 p.m. EST and the show on Sunday is 4:30-6 p.m. EST.
The meet is being webcast live by Swimnetwork.com for the entire meet.
The only swimmers guaranteed spots on the Pan Pacs team are the winners in each event and top four in the 100 and 200 freestyle. Second place finishers and then third place finishers will be added until the roster of 26 swimmers is complete.
In addition to Pan Pacs later this month in Irvine, the national championships will decide the U.S. roster for several international meets including Junior Pan Pacs, 2010 FINA Short Course World Championships, 2011 FINA World Championships and 2011 World University Games. Team rosters will be posted at www.usaswimming.org.
Greece won the 5-kilometer open water team event at the European Swimming Championships Friday in Hungary.
The Greek team of Spyridon Gianniotis, Antonios Fokaidis and Kalliopi Araouzou posted a time of 59 minutes and 3 seconds. Simone Ercoli, Simone Ruffini and Rachele Bruni of Italy were second at 59:55.6. Russia’s Sergey Bolshakov, Daniil Serebrennikov and Anna Guseva were third, 3.9 seconds behind Italy.
Germany, Spain, the Czech Republic, France, Switzerland and Ukraine completed the order of finish.
The event was held at Lake Balaton, 130 kilometers (80 miles) south of Budapest. The 25K men’s event and synchronized swimming solo and team finals will be held Saturday.
Pool events at the 30th edition of the championships in begin Monday.
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.