Ryan Lochte, Michael Phelps
[SPOILER ALERT: The following story reveals the outcomes of Thursday's Olympic swimming finals.]
Thursday's 200-meter individual medley final wasn't just the last London Olympics meeting between Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte — it was their last clash ever.
So who came out on top?
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Phelps took gold in 1:54.27 — his second fastest time ever — ahead of Lochte, who touched in at 1:54.90. Hungary's Laszlo Cseh was third (1:56.22).
With the win — Phelps' 20th medal overall and 16th gold, both records — the 27-year-old became the first male swimmer to three-peat in an individual event. He missed his chances in the 400-meter IM, finishing fourth, and the 200-meter butterfly, claiming silver. Phelps, who will retire after London, will aim for another three-peat in Friday's 100-meter butterfly final, for which he qualified about 40 minutes after the 200 IM.
The result means the friends and swimming's biggest rivals split their much-anticipated two head-to-head matchups in London. Lochte, who won silver in Athens and bronze in Beijing in the 200 IM, beat Phelps for the first time at the Olympics by winning the 400 IM.
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But Lochte was never really in this race, as Phelps dominated from start to finish, pulling away in the breaststroke leg, in which Lochte is stronger than Phelps. Lochte, who turns 28 on Friday, could've been feeling the effects of his tough Thursday double. The 200 IM final took place 30 minutes after he won bronze in the 200-meter backstroke, losing his title to teammate Tyler Clary (Japan's Ryosuke Irie was second). (Of course, 30 minutes is a lifetime compared to the 14 minutes Missy Franklin had between her 200-meter freestyle semi and winning gold in the 100-meter backstroke on Monday.)
The bronze and silver are the 10th and 11th Olympic medals of Lochte's career, and he has no more events left. Lochte was in the relay pool for Saturday's 4x100-meter medley relay, of which Phelps will be part, but he said after his races Thursday that he won't swim it. He won five medals in London: two golds, two silvers and a bronze.