Lochte took the lead on the breaststroke leg of the four-stroke event and held off Phelps in the closing freestyle to win in four minutes 7.06 seconds Monday. Phelps was second in 4:07.89, securing an Olympic berth. Tyler Clary, runner-up of the event at Shanghai worlds last year behind Lochte, was the odd man out, finishing third in 4:09.92. Only the top two finishes in each event in the eight-day meet make the Olympic team.
After making the 400m medley one of his eight triumphs in Beijing, Phelps had vowed he wouldn’t swim it again in major international competition.
“There was a lot of discussion about me doing it,” Phelps said. “The thing it came down to — I wanted to do it. This is an event I’ve done for a long time and I want to finish off my career doing it.”
Phelps has a chance to become the first male swimmer to win the same event at three straight Games — although it’s clear he’ll have his work cut out to beat Lochte. “That time was not good at all,” Lochte said. “I know I’m capable of going faster.”