Ryan Lochte bests Michael Phelps at U.S. swimming national championships


Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte smile on the podium for the Men’s 200m Individual Medley final. (Robyn Beck/AFP)

Ryan Lochte edged Michael Phelps to take first in the 200-meter individual medley Sunday at the U.S. swimming national championships, then casually referred to the race as a “good one for the old guys.”

Yeah, they’re 30 and 29, respectively.

Athletes. Sigh.

“It felt really good getting this win under my belt, because my confidence wasn’t really there,” Lochte said, according to SI.com. “I’ve always relied on my training. This year the training wasn’t there.”

Lochte, an 11-time Olympic medalist, took the title with a time of 1 minute 56.50 seconds; Phelps finished in 1:56.55. Both swimmers are in the midst of comebacks, and weren’t competing in the middle of the pool — the lanes reserved for the fastest qualifiers, the Associated Press reported.

“Me and Michael, we don’t train together, but we know that when we’re back home, we’re training, so we push each other,” Lochte said, according to the L.A. Times. “That’s the best part about our rivalry.”

Phelps — who went winless at the Irvine, Calif., meet — came out of retirement in April. He has won Olympic gold 18 times, and has 22 medals overall.

“I’d rather lose all the national championships that I swim in as long as I’m ready for the big races,” Phelps told AP.

Lochte injured his knee in November, and has missed months of training. He tore an MCL and sprained an ACL when he fell trying to catch a teenage girl, who was running to him on the street. Earlier this month, he appeared at a pre-meet press conference wearing a T-shirt that read: “If you have a lane,” across the chest, and “You have a shot,” on the back.

“This year has been the toughest of my life so far,” Lochte said Sunday, according to SI.com. “Both physically, because I haven’t been in the water much, and the mental part because I haven’t been able to put in the work.”

The AP reported that he wore “glitzy green high-tops with attachable wings” on the medal podium.

“I kind of like the wings,” Lochte reportedly said. “They’re helping me out. I should have worn them all week.”

Sarah Larimer is a general assignment reporter for the Washington Post.
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