By John Lohn
OMAHA, Nebraska, July 3. FOUR years ago in Athens, Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte led the United States to a gold-silver sweep in the 200 individual medley. The first step toward a repeat has been taken. The two-fastest men in the history of the event strolled through the morning preliminaries, with Phelps touching just behind Lochte.
"Today was a little rough, and I think the 100 free took a lot out of me," Lochte said. "This is a morning swim, so I just have to come back tonight and do it again."
Not long after he qualified for the semifinals of the 200 backstroke, Lochte won his heat of the medley in 1:59.49, just ahead of the 1:59.70 that Phelps produced in the final preliminary race of the morning. At last year's World Championships, Phelps set a world record of 1:54.98 and was followed in the silver-medal position by Lochte.
"I did not go out to hard," Phelps said. "I will be in the first heat tonight, so I will try to pull something out of that first heat. At this point, it is just adrenaline. It does not matter how tired you are. I still have two more events left, which are probably the most fun of my events. Tonight, I have Lochte in the IM and then [Ian] Crocker in the fly – so it will be fun."
Alex Vanderkaay qualified third for the semifinals and was the only other man under 2:01, thanks to a time of 2:00.94. T.P. Patrick was fourth in 2:01.01 and Tim Liebhold followed in 2:01.06, with the sixth through eighth positions going to Robert Margalis (2:01.33), Eric Shanteau (2:01.54) and Clark Burckle (2:01.61).
Tyler Clary took ninth (2:01.88) and the rest of the semifinalists include Dan Madwed (2:01.97), Nick D'Innocenzo (2:02.28), Geoff Rathgeber (2:02.30), Jack Brown (2:02.41), Adam Ritter (2:02.43), John Dorr (2:02.52) and Austin Surhoff (2:02.60).
Video Footage Removed Due to NBC Restrictions
Go to Swimming World's 2008 Olympics Landing Page for the most comprehensive coverage of the meet on the Internet.