FINA World Championships, Swimming: Day Eight Prelims

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SHANGHAI, China, July 31. THE final day of the FINA World Long Course Championships is upon us. The final preliminary session will include qualifying in the men's and women's 400 IMs as well as the men's 400 medley relay.

Men's 400 IM
World record: Michael Phelps, USA, 4:03.84
Textile best: Michael Phelps, USA, 4:06.22

The way Ryan Lochte is swimming this week, he probably could have qualified for the distance medley swimming blindfolded. He dominated the preliminary session with an easy 4:11.89, and will be targeting the world record during the finale.

"At this point, I've got to save as much energy as possible," Lochte said. "Especially, when I need to swim so many events. The 400 is possibly the hardest event out there. In Shanghai, I've won a lot of hard races and feel I've done a pretty good job here."

Japan's Yuya Horihata finished second to Lochte in the fifth heat with a 4:13.68, nearly two seconds behind. China's Huang Chaosheng took third in 4:14.07, while USA's Tyler Clary gave the U.S. two lanes in the finale with a fourth-seeded 4:14.98.

"The final is going to be interesting," Clary said. "There will be one person everyone is looking to, and that is Ryan [Lochte]. It will be a great race."

Greece's Ioannis Drymonakos (4:15.01), Hungary's David Verraszto (4:15.01), Chian's Xiang Wang Cheng (4:16.45) and Great Britain's Roberto Pavoni (4:16.48) also made the finale for this evening.

Defending bronze medalist Laszlo Cseh of Hungary had a difficult time this morning, finished well out of the finale eight with a 22nd-place time of 4:22.26.

Women's 400 IM
World record: Stephanie Rice, AUS, 4:29.45
Textile best: Katie Hoff, USA, 4:32.89

USA's Elizabeth Beisel cruised to the top seed in the women's distance medley with a 4:34.95, while Spain's Mireia Belmonte Garcia earned the second seed with a 4:36.36.

USA's Caitlin Leverenz gave the Stars and Stripes a 1-3 finish in prelims with a 4:36.78, while Czech's Barbora Zavadova qualified fourth in 4:36.96.

Defending bronze medalist Stephanie Rice qualified fifth in 4:37.32, while Great Britain's Hannah Miley touched sixth in 4:37.39.

"[The 400 IM] is one of the races you don't want to do in the morning," Rice said. "It is kind of tiring. I did a pretty good job this morning, but I need to keep some energy for tonight. It will be another hard race, but I will have fun."

China's Li Xuanxu (4:37.61) and Ye Shiwen (4:38.18) grabbed the other two transfer spots.

"I am satisfied with my performance today," Ye said. "I was relatively weak in the butterfly and breaststroke legs, so I think I need to work more on those. Generally, I relied on my freestyle leg in the race. The 400 IM is demanding, so I just try to do my best. I prefer the 200 IM, but I am confident about winning a medal tonight."

Defending champion Katinka Hosszu of Hungary finished 15th in 4:42.96, while defending silver medalist Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe took 14th in 4:42.52 as both missed a chance to reclaim their medals.

Men's 400 medley relay
World record: USA, 3:27.28
Textile best: USA, 3:30.68

David Plummer (53.97), Eric Shanteau (1:00.13), Tyler McGill (51.00) and Garrett Weber-Gale (47.32) put together a 3:32.42 in qualifying first. The squad is looking to defend its 2009 title, and its fourth world title in five tries. Australia broke up the potentially longer streak with a win in 2007.

Germany's Helge Meeuw, Hendrik Feldwehr, Ben Starke and Markus Deibler qualified second in 3:33.69, while The Netherlands' Nick Driebergen, Lennart Stekelenburg, Joeri Verlinden and Sebastiaan Verschuren placed third in 3:34.59.

Japan (3:34.82), Australia (3:34.88), Canada (3:35.36), Poland (3:36.13) and Great Britain (3:36.19) all made the finale as well.