By Phillip Whitten
Photos by Peter Bick
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana, April 4. MICHAEL Phelps had chalked up his fourth win in four tries less than an hour before, but now he faced an equally daunting test in the person of one Ryan Lochte, University of Florida.
Lochte had twice lowered the American/NCAA/US Open marks in the 200 yards individual medley in the past month, taking the standard down to 1:41.71. But Phelps owned the world record for 200 meters, not to mention the eight fastest metric IMs in history. He had no intention of letting Lochte take his crown.
The rest of the field included some very strong swimmers – notably Robert Margalis and Eric Shanteau – but this shaped up as a two-man race.
That’s the way it developed.
Phelps came up first and ahead after the start and flew through the first lap fly in 25.56 with Lochte in second but more than half a second behind (26.08).
Lochte holds the American record for 200 yards backstroke, but Phelps added 7-hundredths to his lead on the backstroke leg, turning in 55.35 to his rival’s 55.94. Shanteau, fifth at the 50, moved into third at the 100 in 56.98.
SwimAtlanta’s Shanteau, third at last year’s Olympic Trials in both IMs, unleashed a wicked 34.00 breaststroke leg to turn at the 150 only one tenth of a second behind Lochte, as Phelps extended his lead to 1.27 seconds over Lochte.
Lochte was fastest on the freestyle leg – 27.52 – but Phelps’ 27.83 was more than enough to allow him to win comfortably in 1:57.44, giving him the nine fastest performances of all time. Lochte’s 1:58.40 was a PR – faster than his silver medal-winning time in Athens – and makes him the third fastest man in history.
Shanteau touched in 2:00.29, third once again.