Here’s a look at some of the highlights from an eventful first two days at the U.S. swimming Olympic trials in Omaha:
Lochte v Phelps
Ryan Lochte is 2-0 head-to-head against rival and teammate Michael Phelps.
Monday Lochte defeated Phelps by three-fourths of a second in the 400 individual medley final. Last night the former Florida Gator edged out the 14-time gold medalist in the 200 freestyle semifinal.
Apart from bestowing bragging rights on people who wear “Lochte, Jeah!” sunglasses, both results were meaningless.
Both swimmers qualified for the Olympic team in the 400 IM and both easily advanced to the 200 free final, where the duo will be favored to go 1-2. Phelps and Lochte each will raise their level and lower their times between now and London, so their performances this week aren’t predictive of what they will do next month.
Nonetheless, Lochte continues to demonstrate that, at they very least, he is Phelps’ current equal, regardless of how many ounces of precious metals Phelps can hang around his neck.
In other Ryan Lochte news, the star-of-many-commercials scratched in the 100 backstroke semifinals despite swimming the second fastest time in the prelims. His decision was not a surprise. The backstroke final was two races after the 200 free final, and it would have been difficult for him to do both.
The scratch means that Lochte likely will swim four individual events in London, one fewer than the number Phelps swam in Athens and Beijing. Lochte may or may not swim the backstroke leg of the 400 medley relay.
40-year-old legend Janet Evans failed to advance to the final of the 400 freestyle, finishing 80th of 113. The four-time gold medalist will have one more opportunity to complete her comeback. She swims the 800 this weekend.
Brendan Hansen, who retired after Beijing, was happy to be un-retired when he won the 100 breaststroke. Cancer survivor Eric Shanteau, who finished second, also qualified. They will face the world’s best breaststroker, Japan’s Kosuke Kitajima, in London.
Dana Vollmer, who swam in Athens as a 16-year-old but failed to qualify for Beijing, will return to the Olympics after winning the women’s 100 butterfly. Allison Schmitt took first place in the 400 freestyle, while three-time Olympic medalist Katie Hoff didn’t qualify for the final. Apparently, she ate something that didn’t agree with her and was feeling ill.
Tonight Missy Franklin and a bunch of other teenagers will face off in the 100 backstroke final. 29-year-old Natalie Coughlin, who won gold in the event in Athens and Beijing but had the seventh-fastest qualifying time, will join the whippersnappers.
This evening’s program also includes the women’s 100 breaststroke final, featuring two of the world’s best: Rebecca Soni and Jessica Hardy.