Phelps edges Lochte in latest battle

In an epic and highly anticipated Ryan Lochte/Michael Phelps battle Saturday – the third this U.S. Swimming Olympics Trials – Phelps out-touched Lochte1:54.84 – 1:54.93 in the 200-meter IM, as the duo clocked the two fastest times in the world this year in the event, not more than a half hour after Lochte clinched gold in the 200-meter backstroke final (1:54.54).

Lochte brought his London slate to four individual events with Saturday’s swims: 400 IM, 200 free, 200 back and 200 IM, while also earning a spot on the 800 free relay.

After Lochte’s impressive Friday double, the Gator great topped that, turned around after two finals and capped off his Saturday triple in Omaha with semis of the 100-meter butterfly, advancing in sixth (52.47) and setting up a final Lochte vs. Phelps clash in Sunday evening finals, as Phelps enters as the top seed (51.35).

It was former Gator Conor Dwyer (Winnetka, Ill.), who punched his ticket to London in the 400 free already, that touched third after Phelps and Lochte in the 200 IM, snagging a 1:58.92. Former Gator Rex Tullius (Daytona Beach, Fla.) joined Lochte in the 200 back final, swimming to a 1:59.16, good for sixth in the championship heat.

In women’s semifinals action for Elizabeth Beisel (Kingstown, R.I.) and Teresa Crippen (Conshohocken, Pa.), both solidified spots in the top-eight Sunday evening final of the women’s 200-meter backstroke, Beisel entering as two seed (2:08.41), Crippen heated seventh (2:12.21). Incoming 2012-13 Gator freshman Sierra Kuhn (Verona, Wis.) fell just shy of a top-eight finals qualifying mark in ninth (2:12.79), but will serve as the first alternate for the 200-meter back Saturday evening.

Sunday also marks the start of women’s 50-meter free competition, where former Gator and five-time Olympian Dara Torres will aim to make and unprecedented sixth Olympic team.  At age 41, Torres was the oldest swimmer to make an Olympic team in 2008, and she’ll be looking to top that at age 45. A 12-time Olympic medalist – four gold, four silver and four bronze – Torres will take to the pool in prelims of the 50 free Sunday morning, with semis scheduled for Sunday evening, finals Monday.

For the Gators, Beisel, Dwyer, Lochte and Vanderkaay have all stamped tickets to London, Beisel in the 400 IM, Dwyer in the 400 free and 800 free relay for his first Olympic appearance, Lochte in the 400 IM, 200 back, 200 IM, 200 free, 200 back and 800 free relay, while Vanderkaay took top honors in the 400 free to qualify for his first Olympic Games.

The 2012 USA Swimming Olympic Trials continue Sunday and Monday from the CenturyLink Center in Omaha.

Courtesy UF Communications