WRITTEN BY SHARON ROBB
June 25, 2012
In their first head-to-head showdown of the U.S. Olympic swimming trials Monday night in Omaha, Ryan Lochte threw the first punch.
The Daytona Beach swimmer beat longtime rival Michael Phelps for the first time in the 400-meter individual medley. Lochte, the top seed after morning prelims in 4:10.66 and defending world champion, came back to win in a career-best 4:07.05.
Phelps, 14-time Olympic gold medalist, became the first male swimmer to make four consecutive Olympics with his second-place finish in 4:07.89. Tyler Clary, who has tonsilities, was third in 4:09.92.
Phelps is the world record holder and has won the 400 IM in the last two Olympics.
Lochte was in Lane 4, Phelps in Lane 5 and Clary in Lane 6. Phelps led the opening butterfly leg in 25.71 and 55.66. The backstroke leg became a three-man race with Clary taking the lead at 1:27.06 and 1:58.04.
Lochte reached for another gear on the breaststroke leg and pulled away for a body length lead on the field. Picking up his turnover he maintained the lead in the freestyle while Phelps held off Clary.
“The biggest thing and hardest thing for us is making the team,” Phelps said after his race. “They always have deep stacked fields here. Being able to come in, get the first race out of the way and get the monkey off my back is what I wanted to do.
“Ryan and I have had a lot of tough races,” Phelps said. “I will swim this race in London. Tonight was just a baby step. Ryan knows just like I do that the race that counts is in the next couple weeks.”
Said Lochte: “It’s taken years and years of training to beat Michael. Like he said, this is a baby step. The big picture is the U.S. taking over the world. We have the two best swimmers in this race. The first race is always the hardest. I can go out and have fun now.”
Lochte scratched from the 400-meter freestyle.
South Florida Aquatic Club’s Jessie Alcaide swam the first of her three events on Monday morning. Alcaide finished 97th in the 100-meter butterfly in 1:02.18, off her best time. She went out in 29.17. She has the 100 freestyle on Friday and 50 freestyle on Sunday remaining.
In other races Monday night:
Men’s 400-meter freestyle: In one of the most exciting 400 races ever, Peter Vanderkaay and his Gator Swim Club training meet Conor Dwyer finished 1-2. It will be Vanderkaay’s third Olympics and Dwyer’s first. Charlie Houchin, who has been training at Bolles, took the race out early. Vanderkaay started reeling him in at 150 meters and took the lead at 250 meters and went on to win in 3:47.67. Dwyer came on in the last 50 meters to place second in a best time 3:47.83.
“I just put my head down like practice, tried to get home and get my hand on the wall,” Dwyer said. “Making my first Olympics is tough to put into words. It’s just a dream come true.”
Said Vanderkaay who moved from Michigan to train in Gainesville said, “I just had a little more experience, that was the difference. Training with Conor all year has been a big asset for me. I am just thrilled.”
Women’s 400-meter individual medley: University of Florida’s Elizabeth Beisel made it look easy winning in 4:31.74, just off the American record. Beisel took off on the backstroke leg and distanced herself from the field. Caitlin Leverenz, fourth at the trials four years ago, was second in a best time 4:34.48. Fourteen-year-old Becca Mann of Clearwater Aquatics Team, seeded sixth, was fifth in 4:41.61.
American record holder Katie Hoff scratched from the event.
“I think everybody has confidence issues and I had a lot coming into this race,” Beisel said. “It’s been a long year. I was surprised with my time but I am happy it’s over now. We are both going to medal at London. I definitely think we can do that.”
“This is amazing,” Leverenz said. “It’s hard to put into words. Four years ago I remember finishing fourth and now I’m second. There is so much emotion, I can’t describe it.”
Men’s 100-meter breaststroke: In the only race NBC didn’t televise, Brendan Hansen earned the top seed in the semifinals in 59.71, fourth fastest time in the world. He is the first American to break a minute in a textile suit since he did it in 2006. Scott Weltz, Mark Gangloff, Eric Shanteau and deaf swimmer Marcus Titus also qualified.
Women’s 100-meter butterfly: In the semifinals, Olympian Dana Vollmer went out in 26.42, under the world record pace, to break her own American record in 56.42, fastest time in the world this year to earn the No. 1 seed. In her heat, Claire Donahue took it out fast and finished second behind Natalie Coughlin in her heat and is seeded tied for sixth in 58.53. Vollmer, making her fourth trials appearance since she was 12, broke the U.S. Open and trials record of 56.59 in morning prelims. Donahue, 23, a Western Kentucky alum qualified second in a career-best time of 57.82, ninth fastest time in the world. Donahue trained at SOFLO’S Academic Village Pool leading up to the trials. Jessica Hardy scratched from the 100 butterfly semifinal. Naples’ Erika Erndl barely missed the final in ninth at 58.87.
The Gators are four-for-four in Olympic spots and three-for-three in event wins. Gators head coach Gregg Troy coached four of the first six swimmers to make the Olympic team.
FLORIDA GOLD COAST RESULTS
Women’s 400-meter individual medley: 11. Lauren Driscoll, Swim Fort Lauderdale 4:44.90.
Women’s 100-meter butterfly: 97. Jessie Alcaide, South Florida Aquatic Club 1:02.18; 100. Rhi Jeffrey, Unattached 1:02.26.
Men’s 400-meter individual medley: 17. Carlos Omana, Metro Aquatics 4:23.39; 50. Ryan Rosenbaum, Swim Fort Lauderdale 4:28.26; 109. Sam Smiddy, AK Sharks 4:41.46.
Men’s 400-meter freestyle: 56. Joey Pedraza, Davie Nadadores 3:59.69.
Men’s 100-meter breaststroke: 137. Nick Manousos, Davie Nadadores 1:07.11.
DAY ONE NOTES
Sam Smiddy of AK Sharks was in the same heat as Michael Phelps in the 400-meter individual medley…Forty-year-old Steve West, one the oldest swimmers in the meet, swam 1:03.90 in the 100-meter breaststroke prelims….There are no outside lane lines for lanes one and ten. Swimmers in those outside lanes are up against the wall. Even though the pool was configured for 10 lanes, it wasn’t fitted for outside lane lines even after USA Swimming decided at the last minute to switch prelims from an 8 to 10-lane course….USA Swimming also decided not to have flyover starts to help quicken the pace of morning prelims. Officials wanted to protect the sanctity of the meet as an elite meet and not have it look like an age group meet…Of the record 1,800-plus crowd, 111 swimmers are from Florida…Olympian Amanda Beard has been joined by her husband and son Blaise who went to a College World Series game Monday night in Omaha…A fire alarm at the Hilton, where many swimmers are staying, woke Michael Phelps and Dana Vollmer during their afternoon naps. “Well I have always had a problem with waking up from our naps, but not possible to sleep through that fire alarm,” Phelps posted on Twitter…Kevin Cordes lowered his own 17-18 national age group record in the 100-meter breaststroke semis in 1:00.32.
TWEET OF THE TRIALS
“Awesome 400 IM, proud mama.”—Debbie Phelps
DAY 2 TRIALS SCHEDULE
Morning session: Women’s 100 Backstroke H, Men’s 200 Freestyle H, Women’s 100 Breaststroke H, Men’s 100 Backstroke, Women’s 400 Freestyle H.
Evening session: Women’s 100 Butterfly F, Men’s 200 Freestyle SF, Women’s 100 Breaststroke SF, Men 100 Breaststroke Final, Women 400 Freestyle F, Men 100 Backstroke SF, Women 100 Backstroke SF.
Prelims, 6:30-8:00pm ET, NBCSN Sports
Finals, 8:00-9:00pm ET, NBC
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com