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SHANGHAI, China, July 25. THE big storyline of the men's 200 free semifinals might have been a head-to-head duel between Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps, the past two Swimming World World Swimmers of the Year, but France's Yannick Agnel took some of the glory with the lead time at the FINA World Long Course Championships.
Agnel charted a time of 1:45.62, while defending world champion Paul Biedermann of Germany qualified second in 1:45.93.
"At present, I did not have much pressure, but tomorrow's final will be big pressure and hard enough," Biedermann said.
Lochte, showing no after effects from a recent scooter accident that sent the swimming community into a bit of a tizzy, qualified third in 1:46.11. Lochte seems to always have some sort of ailment or malady of some sort before a major competition, and they never seem to faze him when the meet comes around.
"I feel a lot better in the semifinal than this morning's heats," Lochte said. "I have a lane in tomorrow night's final. I am glad to get it."
South Korea's Tae Hwan Park took fourth in 1:46.23, while defending silver medalist Phelps made his way to the finale with a fifth-seeded 1:46.91.
"I just wanted to get in the finals," Phelps said. "I wanted to see if I could step up in the back end. I tried to control as much as I could. It's going to come down to the last 50. Some guys have the front end speed, and some guys close extremely well. It's going to be tough tomorrow night."
Switzerland's Dominik Meichtry (1:47.30) and Russia's Nikita Lobintsev (1:47.34) qualified sixth and seventh, while defending bronze medalist Danila Izotov of Russia snared the final transfer spot with an eighth-place 1:47.39.