Ryan Lochte got his busy Friday under way by qualifying fastest in the 200-meter backstroke at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials. He returned a short time later and swam in the 200 individual medley heats, advancing with Michael Phelps to their third and last showdown.
On a busy night, Lochte cruised through the semis of the 200 backstroke with the fastest time at 1:55.73. 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 the semifinals of the 200 individual medley, which was 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), while Phelps was about a body length behind (1:56.66).
"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 tonight in the final, their final showdown on 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.
"Those were pretty solid swims," said Lochte, who will have only about a 20-minute break between races in the finals. "I'm up for that challenge. It's something I've been doing for four years now: challenging myself. I'm definitely ready."
Scott Weltz won the 200-meter breaststroke in a major upset.
Clark Burckle claimed the second spot on the Olympic team, another big surprise. The two favorites, Eric Shanteau and Brendan Hansen, finished third and fourth, which means they won't be swimming the 200 in London. They'll have to settle for racing the 100 breast after going 1-2 in that event.
The 25-year-old Weltz moved up on the third lap and surged to the finish to win in 2 minutes, 9.01 seconds. Burckle was next in 2:09.97.
Defending Olympic champion Rebecca Soni easily advanced in the 200 breast 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.
Megan Jendrick, the 2000 Olympic champion in the 100 breast, finished 38th.
Dana Vollmer led the way in the 100 freestyle prelims, with teenager Missy Franklin also advancing.
Vollmer was timed in 54.35 seconds 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, while Schmitt is going for her third individual event.
Jessica Hardy, who failed to qualify for the Olympic team in the 100 breaststroke, had the third-fastest time of 54.52. Breeja Larson upset Soni to win the 100 breast, with Hardy third.
"I never heard of her before. Ever," Hardy said about Larson. "But good for her. Now she's the gold-medal favorite."
Natalie Coughlin, yet to secure a spot on her third Olympic team, finished ninth at 54.99. She will need to be faster in the evening semifinal to advance to the eight-woman final today.
Two-time Olympian Kara Lynn Joyce failed to make the semifinals in 18th, while 2008 Olympian Christine Magnuson tied for 22nd.
Nathan Adrian won the 100-meter freestyle event, while Cullen Jones finished second.