Phelps and Lochte had taken turns winning the 200 IM in recent years. Phelps won gold at the Athens and Beijing Olympics. Lochte won silver and bronze at those Games, but turned around and beat Phelps for gold in world-record time (1:54.00) at the 2011 world championships. At the U.S. Olympic trials, Phelps edged his rival by .09 seconds.
Lochte had the better time in the semifinals Wednesday night, but Phelps won when it mattered.
It has been quite a week for Phelps, who got a call from President Obama after becoming the most decorated Olympian of all time with his 19th medal Tuesday. He admitted he has gotten a bit nostalgic during this meet.
Going into every ready room, I say, This is my last semifinal, my last prelim, my last semi 100 fly. So, were just chalking up all the lasts, Phelps said. I think itll really kick in before the relay [Saturday], my last event.
It did hit me a little watching my mom and sister up there in the stands.
Phelps and Lochte each had an up-and-down week.
Lochte beat Phelps by more than seven seconds in their opening-night 400 IM race. Lochte then got caught swimming the anchor leg of the 400 relay. He finished in fourth place in the 200 freestyle final.
Phelps finished second in the 200 butterfly for the first time at a major international meet in 12 years.
I fell short the first couple of events, so it felt really cool to win an individual gold and to three-peat in the event, Phelps said.
As for Lochte, he planned to eat at McDonalds in the athletes village Thursday night. He said he ate McDonalds for breakfast, lunch and dinner at the Beijing Olympics, but then changed his diet to better compete against Phelps. On Thursday night, for one night, he was reverting to his previous diet.
Overshadowed by the Phelps-Lochte duel were two record performances Clarys Olympic-record win the 200 backstroke and Rebecca Sonis world-record victory in the 200 breaststroke. She won in 2:19.59, improving on the world record she set in the semifinal Wednesday.
Ive been chasing this record since I was a little girl, she said.