Phelps beats rival Lochte in 200m freestyle final

Ryan Lochte, left, and Michael Phelps talk during the medal ceremony after Phelps won the men's 200-meter freestyle final at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials on Wednesday, June 27, 2012, in Omaha, Neb.
AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

(AP) OMAHA, Nebraska - Michael Phelps got back at rival Ryan Lochte, stretching out to win a thrilling 200-meter freestyle Wednesday at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials.

Phelps 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, with Lochte charging hard to chase down the 16-time Olympic gold medalist. But Phelps stretched out his right arm at the wall, touching just ahead of Lochte. The winning time was 1 minute, 45.70 seconds - five-hundredths of a second ahead of Lochte.

Both will head to London to resume their rivalry at the Olympics.

Phelps had a busy night, rushing to the warm down pool to get ready for the semifinals of the 200 butterfly. He came back 40 minutes later to post the third-fastest qualifying time, moving on to Thursday's final looking to lock up a chance to defend the gold he won at the last two Olympics.

Phelps falls to Lochte at swimming trials

"I feel old," the 26-year-old Phelps quipped.

Speaking of busy, 17-year-old 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 won at the last two Olympics.

Coming back to the pool just 20 minutes after qualifying for the final of the 200 freestyle, Franklin chased down Coughlin on the return lap to win with an American record of 58.85.

"I have dreamed of this moment, but I never thought it would come true at 17 years old," Franklin said. "Dreams do come true."

Coughlin started strong 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 swam over to congratulate Franklin in the middle of the pool.

In another final Wednesday, Matt Grevers captured the men's 100 backstroke with the fastest time in the world this year, and Nick Thoman claimed the second spot on the Olympic team.

Breeja Larson pulled off a huge upset in the 100 breaststroke, beating Rebecca Soni and world-record holder Jessica Hardy. Soni rallied to get the second spot on the team, but Hardy finished third - about a half-second too slow to earn a spot in London.

"Maybe after tonight my dad owes me a steak dinner," said Larson, who is competing in her first trials. "After the steak has settled in, I might believe it."

Hardy was eager for redemption after missing out on the 2008 Olympics because of a failed doping test, which resulted in a one-year suspension. An arbitration panel reduced the normal two-year ban, ruling that Hardy was the victim of a tainted supplement.

"It was a great race for me," said Hardy, who still has a shot to make the team in the 100 free. "I think I held it together. I'm happy with it. I gave it a good shot."

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.

Lochte said he went out too slow in the beginning of the 200 free, a mistake he intends to correct when he gets to London. Phelps' winning time was nearly 3 seconds slower than his gold-medal effort in Beijing, though that was aided by high-tech bodysuits, which have since been banned by the world governing body.

"We didn't really try to pick it up until, like, the last 75, so I'll save that for the Olympics," said Lochte, whose time was 1:45.75. "I was just really relaxed for the first 125, and then the last 75, I was like, 'All right, now we've got to put it in gear.' So I kind of waited a little late, but I'll take it."

Phelps' coach, Bob Bowman, said Phelps and Lochte were so concerned with racing each other "that they forgot to go fast." Phelps actually posted a faster time in a Grand Prix meet this year.

"When we're next to each other, we sort of play cat-and-mouse," Phelps said. "We like to see what each other does ... then put every ounce of energy into the last 50."

They'll have one more showdown in Omaha, facing off in the 200 individual medley. Then it's off to the meet that really matters, where Phelps is plotting another eight-event program in what he says will be his final Olympics, giving him a chance to match his record performance four years ago.