OMAHA, Neb. The U.S. Olympic Swim Trials began with fireworks Monday night, as the two superstars of American mens swimming raced head-to-head in the very first meet final.
Ryan Lochte outlasted Michael Phelps in a thrilling 400 individual medley, with the duo posting the events two fastest times in the world this year. They both made the Olympic team with their performances likely the first of multiple events in which each will qualify.
Raleigh native Charlie Houchin and Charlotte native Matt Patton werent as fortunate in another race. Both made the final of the 400 freestyle no small feat, since 111 swimmers competed for those eight spots but couldnt finish in one of the top two spots necessary to earn a ticket to London.
Lochte downplayed both his time (4:07.06, more than three seconds off Phelps world record set in 2008) and the win over 14-time Olympic gold medalist Phelps.
That time was not good at all, I feel like, Lochte said. I know Im capable of going faster . [As for beating Phelps] it doesnt say much. Its a rivalry weve had for almost eight years now. Weve just been switching back and forth. Its hard to say who the best swimmer is.
Phelps said he was OK with his time of 4:07.89. Im happy to get that that monkey off your back for the first event and get the first-race jitters out, he said. Phelps coach, Bob Bowman, said of Lochte: He just kicked our [butt].
Houchin, who starred at Raleigh Enloe and was first or second for most of his race, finished fourth after fading slightly in the final 50 meters. He was first after 350 meters, but three swimmers passed him after the final turn.
Patton, who went to Butler High and like Houchin attended Michigan to swim collegiately, finished seventh.
Favorite Peter Vanderkaay won the 400 in 3:47.67 to make his third Olympic team and Conor Dwyer finished second in 3:47.83 to make the team as well.
Vanderkaay and Houchin traded the lead back and forth for most of the 400 free. I wanted to go out fast and Charlie apparently wanted to go out fast, too, Vanderkaay said. He helped me do that. Hes a great racer. I was just able to pull away at the end.
The Lochte-Phelps matchup is the marquee rivalry of these Olympic trials and will undoubtedly carry over to London in a month when the Summer Olympics begin. Tyler Clary swam the third-fastest time in the world this year in the 400 IM and still didnt make the team at 4:09.92.
In other news:
• The other two Olympic spots awarded went to Elizabeth Beisel and Caitlin Leverenz, who finished first and second, respectively, in the womens 400 IM.
• Dana Vollmer narrowly missed a world record and did set an American record in the semifinals of the 100 womens butterfly, swimming it in 56.42 seconds.
• Kevin Swander of SwimMAC Carolinas Team Elite made it to the semifinals in the mens 100 breaststroke but could not qualify for Tuesdays eight-man final, finishing ninth overall. It is possible Swander could still get into the final if there is a late scratch.
• Peter Brumm, a standout swimmer at Hough High who will swim at Michigan in the fall, finished 43rd out of 111 swimmers in the 400 freestyle.