The Impact of Ryan Lochte Scratching the 200 Free Final at Nationals

Photo by Griffin Scott

Editorial coverage for U.S. Senior Nationals proudly sponsored by Master Spas!

By David Rieder

IRVINE, California, August 7. WITH the 200 back also on his program for tonight’s finals at U.S. Nationals, Ryan Lochte scratched out of the 200 free final for which he qualified third. However, swimmers already qualified for the Pan Pacs team – including Lochte, who qualified by virtue of his second-place finish last night in the 100 free – can swim any event they want at Pan Pacs. Furthermore, Lochte’s withdrawl could put the American 800 free relay into flux.

With Michael Phelps missing last year’s World Championships due to his short retirement, Lochte has been the longest-tenured member of any American relay, as he has swum on each 800 free relay since the 2004 Olympics. He also has had some individual success in the 200 free, winning the event at the 2011 World Championships and finishing fourth at both the 2012 Olympics and 2013 Worlds. Lochte qualified third this morning in the 200 free behind Matt McLean and Conor Dwyer, but his 1:47.41 hardly ensures the coaches will select him for relay duty in Australia.

However, since Lochte can swim any event he wants at Pan Pacs, he could swim the 200 free on the first day of the meet to ensure a spot on the 800 free relay on day two. The coaches will select those with the best four 200 freestyle times of the summer, regardless of where those times come from. Based on the schedule, Lochte would have no major conflicts on day one – certainly no event as central to his schedule as the 200 back, an event in which he has won the last two world titles and three of the last four.

How about for Worlds next year? For selecting both the top two for the 200 free and top six for the 800 free, USA Swimming will compare the best times of athletes from tonight’s 200 free championship final and both the A and B finals from Pan Pacs. Whoever gets sixth place tonight, then, won’t be assured a trip to Kazan if Lochte – or Phelps, perhaps – puts out a nice swim in one of the finals at Pan Pacs.

A lot of these scenarios depend on “ifs,” but all are worth keeping in mind. Lochte, like his former training partner Elizabeth Beisel, simply chose to focus on performing well in his stronger event tonight, but chances are strong that he and coach David Marsh still plan a run at the 200 free in two weeks at Pan Pacs.

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Author: David Rieder

David Rieder has been a contributor to Swimming World since 2009. A native of Charleston, SC, he currently attends Duke University, where he works as the public address announcer for the varsity swim team.

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