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Sunday July 1, 2012On to London: Lochte Wraps Up Rugged Trials

Chris Harry
By Chris Harry
GatorZone.com Senior Writer

OMAHA, Neb. -- Ryan Lochte was in Lane 1. That was rare enough. He also was swimming in an event he’d never entered at such a fiercely competitive setting.

He finished third.

Was pretty pleased about it, too.

“This meet was a training meet,” said Lochte, the 24-time All-American from Florida and three-time Olympic gold medalist. “There’s so much left to do.”

Not that he left anything behind in six phenomenal, star-studded days at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials at CenturyLink Center. In that time, Lochte raced 15 times -- including three grueling events in 53 minutes Saturday night -- and more than half of those races came with Michael Phelps in the pool.

The last of four Phelps-Lochte championship heat duels came Sunday night in the 100-meter butterfly, which Lochte entered on the advice of U.S. and UF coach Gregg Troy. The more he challenged himself in the most competitive meet in the world, the more prepared he’d be come London. That was the strategy.

“We had some goals here, but we feel like this is not the ultimate goal,” Troy said. “This was kind of gauging where we are. There’s a level of preparation that goes into it.”

Hence, the butterfly.

Lochte’s time in Saturday’s semifinals -- the last race after winning the 200 back and finishing second to Phelps in the 200 individual medley -- seeded him in a tie for sixth. That put him in Lane 1, three away from Phelps.

What Phelps and Tyler McGill, the 1-2 favorites, didn’t see was Lochte surging to near (if not in front) of the pack with about 30 yards to go, but Phelps powered to the wall to touch at 51.54. McGill was second at 51.32 and Lochte third at 51.65.

“It was kind of my call to swim butterfly tonight. It was something I’d never done before at a big meet,” Lochte said. “I said, ‘You know, let’s just do it. It’ll be fun.’ ”

It was almost fruitful.

And if he’d finished second?

“I probably wouldn’t have swam it in London,” Lochte said. “I don’t ever want to do that triple again.”

His final Olympic trials tally will show four individual events and at least three relays.

“We’re pleased,” Troy said. “His times are good. They’re very good.”

 

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