Lochte edges Phelps on final night of Nationals


Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps after the 200 IM at 2014 Nationals. (Medium)IRVINE, Calif. – Olympian Ryan Lochte won his first race of the week Sunday, on the final night of competition at the Phillips 66 National Championships. He edged Olympian Michael Phelps by five-hundredths of a second in the men’s 200m IM, 1:56.50 to 1:56.55.


Their performances were the second- and third-fastest times in the world this year.


“It’s good to get a win under my belt,” Lochte said. “It’s been an up-and-down year for me, not only the physical part, but the mental part, knowing that I haven’t done the work I know I need to do (because of an injured knee).”


For a guy who says he hasn’t done the work, Lochte took the race out hard, touching two-hundredths of a second off world record pace at the first 50. His strategy worked, though, as the rest of the field chased him through the final 50 meters, when Phelps closed the gap in the freestyle leg, coming up just short. Olympian Tyler Clary finished third in 1:57.94.


“I didn’t really want to go out that fast,” Lochte said. “I was trying to hold back. I think (Michael and I) put this one together because it’s the last race of the meet, and we both want to get out of here and go to Australia.”


Both Lochte and Phelps qualified for the U.S. Pan Pacific Championships team in a couple events – Lochte in the 100 free and 200 IM, and Phelps in the 100 fly and 200 IM. They will compete Aug. 21-25 in Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.


This meet marked the first time since 2000 that Phelps has not won a single title at a National Championships in which he competed. Still, he was happy with his race Sunday.


“I looked up and saw (Lochte) was two-hundredths over the world record pace at the 50, and I thought, ‘This isn’t going to be good.,’” Phelps said. “If you go out too fast in that race, it isn’t going to be good.


“It was kind of weird. I turned at the 100 and felt pretty good. Maybe it’s a sign I should do 200s instead of 100s. It was not as painful some of the 100s were. I’m much happier finishing like that, than some of the sub-par swimming I’ve had at this meet. I can’t say enough – I was pleased with my time here.”


Men's and Women's 50m Free

Also registering their first wins in Irvine Saturday were U.S. National Teamer Simone Manuel and Olympian Anthony Ervin, who took the women’s and men’s  50m free in 24.56 and 21.55, respectively.


Finishing second behind Manuel were Ivy Martin in 24.72 and Madeline Locus in 24.81. Both Martin and Locus were added to the Pan Pac team for their efforts. Manuel qualified for her second event. She also qualified with a second-place finish in the 100 free on the first night of competition.


“I just wanted to have a good finish,” Manuel said. “It’s something I’ve been struggling with, so I wanted to stick my finish because everything has to be perfect in the 50 free.”


Ervin’s time tied for the third-fastest in the world this year. Finishing second behind him was fellow Olympian Nathan Adrian in 21.69. Olympian Cullen Jones was third in 21.83. 


Like Ervin, Jones qualified for the Pan Pac Team in his first event with his finish Sunday. Adrian qualified for the team on the first night with a first-place finish in the 100m free.


Men's 800m Free

Winning his second race of the week was Michael McBroom, who bested the field by more than six seconds in the men’s 800m free. Matt McLean was second in 7:55.78, followed by Michael Klueh in 7:58.13.


McBroom also won the men’s 400m free on Saturday, and will be swimming that event and the 1500m free at Pan Pacs. The men’s 800m free was not a qualifying event for Pan Pacs.


“I just wanted to race and get the win,” McBroom said. “It sets me up well for Pan Pacs.”


Melanie Margalis came out on top of a tight race in the women’s 200m IM, nipping runner-up Maya DiRado, 2:10.20 to 2:10.57. 


Women's 200m IM

It was anyone’s race through 200 meters, when Margalis and Olympian Caitlin Leverenz began to separate themselves from the pack in the breaststroke leg. Margalis pulled away from Leverenz in the final 50, but had to hold off a charging DiRado down the stretch.


Margalis’ time was the third-fastest in the world this year. It was her first win of the week after finishing third in both the 400m IM and 200m breaststroke. The win officially qualified her for the Pan Pacs team. DiRado has already qualified via her second-place finish in the 400m IM Friday.


Women's 1500m Free

Katy Campbell dropped nearly 30 seconds off her lifetime best to win the women’s 1500m freestyle, turning in a time of 16:17.59. Danielle Valley was second in 16:19.83, while Lindsay Vrooman was third in 16:22.83. The women’s 1500m free was not a qualifying event for Pan Pacs.


Awards and Team Scores

The Phillips 66 National Championships wrapped up Sunday night. 


Olympians Missy Franklin and Matt Grevers won women’s and men’s Kiphuth High Point Award. Franklin won three events this week – the 100m free, 100m back and 200m back – and finished second in the 200m free. Grevers won the 50m fly and 100m back.


Olympian Katie Ledecky won the Phillips 66 Performance Award for her world-record swim in the 400m free on Saturday. 


Winning the women’s team title was SwimMac Carolina with 372.5 points, followed by California Aquatics with 307 points and North Baltimore Aquatic Club with 217.5 points. SwimMac also won the men’s team title with 384 points, followed by North Baltimore (305 points) and Cal Aquatics (259 points).


Those same three teams were the top three teams in the combined scoring: SwimMac came out on top with 756.5 points, while Cal Aquatics was second with 566 points and NBAC was third with 522.5 points.

For complete results from the Phillips 66 National Championships, go to www.usaswimming.org/events