Last night during the opening of the US Olympic swimming trials, Michael Phelps got his first taste of what it is like to lose.
Ryan Lochte, the reigning world champion in the event, beat Phelps in the 400 meter individual medley. Both men claimed spots on the Olympic team while Tyler Clary took the unlucky third slot, the Washington Post reported. Only the top two swimmers advance to the Olympics, while the third place finisher acts as an alternate.
After the race Lochte told the Post that the rivalry between the two has been growing for nearly eight years. “We’ve just been swinging back and forth. It’s hard to say who the best swimmer is, because we’re both such great racers.”
Lochte finished in 4 minutes, 7.06 seconds while Phelps finished in 4:07.89.
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Phelps hinted that he may be holding back a bit, waiting for the Olympics to show the world that he still has what it takes. Phelps told Bloomberg, “This is just a baby step. Ryan knows this just like I do, the race that counts happens in a couple weeks.”
The two will meet again in the 200-meter freestyle preliminaries on Tuesday morning, where the 16 fastest qualifiers advancing to the evening semifinals. The Associated Press noted that Lochte has the upper hand in that event. He beat Phelps at last year's world championships in Shanghai with his freestyle.