Irvine: Michael Phelps departed the US Swimming Championships without a title after a runner-up finish to Ryan Lochte in the 200m medley on Sunday, but with renewed resolve to return to the pinnacle of the sport.
Michael Phelps with his silver medal for men's 200m medley
The top two swimmers in the history of the event shrugged off indifferent results earlier in the meet to deliver an exciting battle, Lochte charging to a wire-to-wire victory in 1min 56.50sec, second-fastest time in the world this year.
Phelps, whose 18 Olympic gold medals include three 200m medley triumphs, came on strong on the closing freestyle leg, but settled for second in the year's third-best time of 1:56.55.
"Definitely better than where I was at the beginning of the meet," said a delighted Phelps. "I got in the water and I was actually able to put together a full race."
Only Japan's Kosuke Hagino has gone faster this year, with a time of 1:55.38.
The three could meet in less than a fortnight at the Pan Pacific Championships in Gold Coast, Australia, although Phelps and Lochte have yet to confirm their program for that meet.