Omaha, Nebraska. Michael Phelps turned the tables on Ryan Lochte in the 200m freestyle final at the US Olympic swimming trials on Wednesday, edging his rival in a thriller as both booked London Games berths.
Phelps, the former world record-holder and reigning Olympic champion, led at every turn with Lochte right on his shoulder.
Both came hard off the final turn, with Lochte turning up the pressure before Phelps’s final push at the finish gave him the victory in 1min 45.70sec.
Lochte — who beat Phelps in the event at last year’s World Championships in Shanghai — was second in 1:45.75.
The two were already booked for an Olympic clash in the 400m individual medley, in which Lochte beat Phelps here on Monday.
Phelps, whose 14 Olympic gold medals include his historic eight-gold haul at Beijing four years ago, was due on the blocks again later Wednesday in the semi-finals of the 200m butterfly.
As Phelps was busy lining up more chances to cement his Olympic legacy, teenager Missy Franklin led a changing of the guard in the women’s 100m backstroke.
Franklin, the 17-year-old tipped for Olympic stardom after her breakout performance at last year’s world championships, surged into the lead on the second lap to win in 58.85sec.
Rachel Bootsma, 18, was second in 59.49 to punch her ticket to the Games while 29-year-old Natalie Coughlin, the two-time defending Olympic champion in the event, finished third to miss out on a chance at a three-peat.
Only the top two finishers in each event in the eight–day meeting secure places in the Olympic team.