OMAHA -- On a busy night Friday, Ryan Lochte cruised through a semifinal of the 200 backstroke as the U.S. Olympic swim trials with the fastest time in 1 minute, 55.73 seconds. Tyler Clary was next (1:55.88) in what looks like a two-man race. Only one other qualifier for the final was within 3 seconds of the leaders.
Lochte returned less than an hour later for a semifinal of the 200 freestyle, which was Michael Phelps' only event of the night. Racing side-by-side again, Lochte was top qualifier again with the fastest time in the world this year (1:55.51), and Phelps was about a body length behind (1:56.66).
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"I knew he kind of took off, so I was like I probably should save something for tomorrow," Phelps said. "I kind of shut it down once the race was kind of over."
They will be right next to each other again Saturday night in the finals, their final showdown in the trials. They've each won a head-to-head meeting, a tantalizing glimpse of what awaits at the meet that really matters in London.
Lochte got his busy Friday under way by qualifying fastest in the 200 backstroke. He returned a short time later and swam in the 200 individual medley heats, advancing with Phelps.
Conor Dwyer, already on the Olympic team, won the latter race in 1:59.11. Phelps was second-fastest in 1:59.27. Austin Surhoff, the son of former major-league baseball player B.J. Surhoff, was third in 1:59.65.
Defending Olympic champion Rebecca Soni easily advanced in the 200 breaststroke at 2:23.11. Micah Lawrence was second in 2:24.95, and Andrea Kropp third at 2:25.77. Amanda Beard, trying to make her fifth Olympic team at 30, was fifth in 2:27.07.
Dana Vollmer led the way in the 100 freestyle preliminaries, with teenager Missy Franklin also advancing. Vollmer was timed in 54.35 for the two-lap sprint. Allison Schmitt, having one of her best meets ever, was second at 54.49. Vollmer is already on the U.S. team in an individual event, and Schmitt is going for her third individual event.