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Thursday, June 28, 2012 - Page updated at 10:00 p.m.
Phelps wins latest duel with Lochte
By The Associated Press
OMAHA, Neb. — Back and forth they went, Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte turning the U.S. Olympic trials into nothing more than a match race between the world's two greatest swimmers.
They might as well have been the only guys in the pool, their arms whirling furiously, the two of them never more than a few inches apart. Then, at the wall, they thrust out their right arms.
Phelps touched first.
By five-hundredths of a second.
Sending an emphatic message to his biggest rival, Phelps stretched out to win a thrilling 200-meter freestyle Wednesday night, setting up a duel in London that just gets more tantalizing with every race.
"Neither one of us likes to lose," Phelps said. "We're going to have a lot of races like that over the next couple of weeks. That's how it always seems to shake out when we're in the water."
Lochte won the 400 individual medley on the opening night of the trials, his third straight major victory over the winningest Olympian ever. But Phelps isn't going down that easily.
He got off to a stronger start than usual, leading at the first turn and holding the advantage through all four laps. Both swimmers got a big boost off the final turn, cutting through the water like missiles, and Lochte went stroke for stroke down the stretch. But Phelps stretched out his right arm at the wall, touching just ahead of Lochte. The winning time was 1 minute, 45.70 seconds.
"I'm glad I got one back," Phelps said. "But we're going to have a lot more of those."
After winning the 200, Phelps scratched the 100 freestyle.
Missy Franklin left no doubt that she is swimming's next big star with a stunning performance in the 100 backstroke, signaling a changing of the guard in an event Natalie Coughlin captured at the past two Olympics.
Coming back to the pool just 20 minutes after qualifying for the final of the 200 freestyle, the 17-year-old "Missile" chased down Coughlin on the return lap to win with an American record of 58.85.
Coughlin got off to a typically strong start and was under world-record pace at the turn. But the 29-year-old couldn't hold off two teenagers. Eighteen-year-old Rachel Bootsma got past the 11-time Olympic medalist as well, claiming the second Olympic spot in 59.49.
Coughlin was third in 1:00.06 and has only one more chance to make her third Olympic team: the 100 freestyle. She hopes to have a shot at winning at least one medal in London, which would pull her even with Jenny Thompson and Dara Torres as the most decorated U.S. female Olympians.
In another final, Breeja Larson pulled off a huge upset in the 100 breaststroke, beating Rebecca Soni and world-record holder Jessica Hardy. Larson won in 1:05.92, while Soni rallied to get the second spot on the team at 1:05.99.
Also, Matt Grevers captured the men's 100 backstroke with the second-fastest time ever, 52.08. Nick Thoman finished second in 52.86 to take the second spot on the Olympic team.
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