By Sharon Robb
PALO ALTO, Calif., August 5, 2019—Ryan Lochte is definitely back.
The six-time Olympic gold medalist, coming off a 14-month suspension, won the 200-meter individual medley on the final day of the Phillips 66 USA National Championships Sunday at Stanford’s Avery Aquatics Center.
Lochte, 35, won in 1:57.76, nearly four seconds slower than his world record set eight years ago. It was his 27th national title.
“This was a lot easier 10 years ago,” said Lochte, who finished 1.07 seconds ahead of silver medalist Shalne Casas. “I’ve got a long ways to go for 2020. This younger generation of swimmers are fast. They are young and I am definitely getting older, but I’m up for the challenge.”
Lochte gave his gold medal to a young fan, saying “I don’t know half the swimmers I’m swimming against. As rewarding as it is for me to win races, I get more satisfaction out of seeing the smiles on kids’ faces when I give them my medals.”
Lochte was pleased with his comeback meet but admitted he wasn’t in top form.
“It didn’t feel good at all,” Lochte said with a laugh. “I just remember years ago it feeling so much easier, but I mean it’s a starting point for me. Especially since my daughter has been born, the past five and a half to six weeks, I haven’t really been at the pool.”
In other championship finals:
Madisyn Cox won the 200-meter individual medley in 2:10.00 ahead of Vanessa Pearl in 2:12.40. Former Gulliver swimmer Kelly Fertel won the “B” final in 2:13.27.
A day after making her first U.S. Olympic Trials cut in the 400-meter freestyle, South Florida Aquatic Club’s Kathleen Golding, 18, swam the 200-meter individual medley in 2:19.46 in her fourth and final event of senior nationals.
Erika Brown won the women’s 50-meter freestyle in 24.71. Gretchen Walsh was second in 24.85.
Ryan Held won the men’s 50-meter freestyle in 21.87. Bowe Becker and Robert Howard tied for second in 22.00.
Ally McHugh won the women’s 1500-meter freestyle in 16:05.98. McHugh took the lead at 1100 and had a two-body length going into the 1300-mark.
Bobby Finke of St. Petersburg Spa won the men’s 800-meter freestyle in 7:47.58 ahead of Zane Grothe in 7:50.47.
MORE SWIMMING NEWS
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Eleven World Cup records were broken in Tokyo, site of the FINA World Cup Series. The series resumes Thursday in Jinan, China. South Florida Aquatic Club veteran swimmer Alia Atkinson of Jamaica will compete. She won the 50-meter breaststroke in the series opener.
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org