Lochte outclasses Phelps to win 200m freestyle

Updated: 2011-07-27 10:04


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Lochte outclasses Phelps to win 200m freestyle

Michael Phelps (L) and Ryan Lochte of the US look on after the men's 200m freestyle final at the 14th FINA World Championships in Shanghai July 26, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]

SHANGHAI - Ryan Lochte overtook Michael Phelps on the final turn of the 200-meter freestyle to win one of the most highly awaited races of the world championships Tuesday, reminding everyone that he's a threat to replace his fellow American as the world's top swimmer.

Lochte touched in 1:44.44 seconds, with Phelps taking the silver in 1:44.79 while defending champion Paul Biedermann of Germany - who handed Phelps a stinging defeat in this event at the last worlds in Rome two years ago - settled for bronze in 1:44.88.

"I can't complain," Phelps said. I'm bummed I didn't win, but you know at the same time, with what we've done over the last six to eight months, I'm over a second faster than I was last year ... So I'm headed in the right direction."

Lochte also beat Phelps in the 200 individual medley and 200 backstroke at last year's US championships, then won six golds to Phelps' five at the Pan Pacific Championships in 2010 - prompting Phelps' coach Bob Bowman to acknowledge that Lochte was the best swimmer last year.

Phelps led at the 50 and 100 marks before Lochte, who was swimming in the next lane over, surged in front.

"I knew Michael wanted to go out just to clean water so I knew I had to be in striking distance and just work what I'm good at - those underwaters on each turn," Lochte said. "It's a big confidence boost. Hopefully this win tonight will help me carry on through my other races this week."

Lochte outclasses Phelps to win 200m freestyle

Ryan Lochte of the US competes in the men's 200m freestyle final at the 14th FINA World Championships in Shanghai, July 26, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]

After the race, Lochte hardly celebrated, then Phelps shook his hand, signaling a friendly rivalry.

"He's the only person I'll even say anything to in the ready room," Phelps said. "We can joke around. He can hear my headphones with having them on my head, so we were both singing along to the music. We're super laid-back, super relaxed. We have fun. We love to race each other. ... We bring the best out of each other."

Park Tae-hwan of South Korea, who won the 400 free on the opening night of the eight-day meet Sunday, was fourth.

In 2009, Biedermann beat Phelps by more than a second in the 200 free, taking down the American's world record in the process.

Biedermann himself acknowledged after that race that his high-tech bodysuit was partly responsible for his win and Phelps' coach Bob Bowman threatened to keep his star swimmer out of the water until the polyurethane suits were banned.

This is the first major international meet since the return to textile suits, and Lochte's winning time was far off Biedermann's world record of 1:42.00.

"In '09, I just did my thing. For the moment now it's more difficult for me," Biedermann said. "The suits helped. No matter what we are back in jammers now and that's all that counts."

Phelps and Lochte, meanwhile, will face each other again in the 200 IM later in the meet.

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