Michael Phelps speaks during a news conference at the U.S....

Michael Phelps speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials. (June 24, 2012) Credit: AP

OMAHA -- Ryan Lochte still has Michael Phelps' number. But Phelps has put himself in position to go for another eight gold medals at the London Olympics.

Lochte won his latest showdown with the winningest Olympian ever, beating Phelps in the 400-meter individual medley at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials last night.

In taking the first spot on the Olympic team, Lochte extended his dominance of Phelps that goes back to last year's world championships, when the 27-year-old Floridian won five gold medals and both of his head-to-head races against Phelps.

"The first race is always the hardest," Lochte said. "I can take a deep breath now, relax and whatever happens, happens."

Phelps started strongly on the butterfly leg, his strongest stroke, but Lochte took command when they switched to the breaststroke. He built a lead of about a half-body length and held off Phelps in the freestyle finish, cruising to the wall with one arm extended to post a time of 4 minutes, 7.06 seconds.

Phelps claimed the second Olympic spot in 4:07.89.

"I was very pleased with that," Phelps said. "I said if I went 4:07, I'd be happy."

Tyler Clary, who took second at the 2011 worlds, won't even get a chance to swim the event in London. He faded to third in 4:09.92 and was so upset, he didn't even bother to stop for the media in the mixed zone.

Heading to his third Olympics, Lochte is determined to repeat his brilliant performance last year in Shanghai, where he surpassed Phelps as the world's top swimmer.

"I'm definitely ready to tear it up in London and show the world what the USA is all about," Lochte said.

Don't count out Phelps, who plans to retire after the Olympics and is eager to end his career with another dazzling performance. He already has won 14 gold medals, more than any other athlete. He could have a shot at eight more.

Phelps will be heavily favored to claim a spot on the U.S. team in four other individual events at Omaha: the 100 and 200 butterfly, 200 freestyle and 200 individual medley. If he again swims on all three American relays, as expected, Phelps would have an eight-event program at the Olympics.

Other finals. In other finals on the opening night of the trials, Peter Vanderkaay became a three-time Olympian by winning the 400 freestyle, and 19-year-old Elizabeth Beisel earned her second straight trip to the Olympics in the 400 IM.

Vanderkaay won in 3:47.67, and Conor Dwyer settled for the second spot on the team in 3:47.83. Beisel won her event easily in 4:31.74, more than 2 seconds ahead of Caitlin Leverenz.

Dana Vollmer, bouncing back from the disappointment of failing to qualify for the Olympic team four years ago, set an American record in a semifinal of the 100 butterfly. The defending world champion put up a blistering time of 56.42 to edge the mark she set a year ago (56.47).

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