Olympics

Ryan Lochte, Michael Phelps set for Olympic 200 IM showdown Thursday

Ryan Lochte, left, and Michael Phelps check their times after competing in a men’s 200-meter individual medley semifinal Wednesday in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The longime friends and rivals are the top two seeds in Thursday’s 10:01 p.m. final.
Ryan Lochte, left, and Michael Phelps check their times after competing in a men’s 200-meter individual medley semifinal Wednesday in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The longime friends and rivals are the top two seeds in Thursday’s 10:01 p.m. final. AP

Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps easily advanced to the men’s 200 individual medley final on Wednesday night, with Phelps qualifying first overall and Lochte second in the semifinal heats.

In the same heat and right next to each other because of lane assignments, Phelps beat Lochte by a half-second in Wednesday night’s race. They will swim again in the final at 10:01 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday in a race that will be heavily promoted by NBC. It is their only direct head-to-head competition in these Olympics.

Phelps and Lochte went 1-2 – with Phelps winning – in the same order in London at the 2012 Olympics in the 200 IM and could very well do the same thing Thursday night in Brazil. The 200 IM is Lochte’s only individual event of the Olympics and he has been concentrating on the event for weeks. Phelps has had to take more of a generalist’s approach to training – but he’s Michael Phelps.

Phelps and Lochte already combined for a gold medal on Tuesday in the 4x200 freestyle relay.

Lochte, who moved to Charlotte three years ago to train at SwimMAC Carolina, has 12 Olympic medals and would be considered the greatest Olympic swimmer of many generations. Unfortunately, he is smack in the middle of Phelps’ generation. Phelps has 25 total Olympic medals (21 of them gold) and is considered by many to be the greatest Olympic athlete of all time.

While Phelps, 31, has said repeatedly he would retire after these Olympics, he also said the same thing in London. Lochte made no secret of not believing his longtime friend and rival then about retirement, and he doesn’t really believe him now, either.

Lochte, 32, has said he’s going to keep swimming “as long as I keep having fun.” Lochte also said before the Olympics he was unsure if he would continue to keep Charlotte as his training base after these Olympics conclude.

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