By John Lohn
MONTREAL, Canada, July 27. A rematch of the Olympic final in Athens is on the docket, as the United States’ Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps qualified first and second for the championship heat of the 200 individual medley on Wednesday night. In qualifying first, Lochte, the silver medalist in Athens, posted the 10th-fastest time in history, a mark of 1:58.06.
Phelps, who contested the 100 free semifinals earlier in the night, breezed to a swim of 1:58.36. The Olympic champ and owner of the nine fastest times ever produced, Phelps will be the heavy favorite to capture gold on. Phelps’ world-record time is 1:55.94 and he’s been under 1:57 on four occasions.
Lithuania’s Vytautas Janusaitis also cracked the two-minute barrier, swimming 1:59.72 for the third seed in the final. Janusaitis finished ahead of Hungary’s Laszlo Cseh, who touched in 2:00.12. Cseh was faster during the morning preliminaries, as he went 1:59.56 during that session. Cseh should have enough juice to pick up the bronze medal.
The fifth berth to the championship race went to Japan’s Hidemasa Sano, thanks to a performance of 2:00.45. The other qualifiers for the final were Italy’s Alessio Boggiatto (2:00.52), Russia’s Igor Berezutsky (2:01.11) and New Zealand’s Dean Kent (2:01.55). Australia’s Adam Lucas just missed the final, as he went 2:01.99.