IRVINE, Calif. — Ryan Lochte won the 200-meter backstroke at the U.S. national championships on Saturday night.
Lochte, the 2008 Olympic gold medalist, recorded the second-fastest time in the world this year and touched in 1:55.58.
"I just went out as fast as I could and then held on for dear life," Lochte said. "I could see everyone just starting to catch me in the last 50, and I was like, 'Great, this is going to be ugly.'"
That never happened and Lochte emerged with his third first place this week after winning the 400 individual medley and 200 IM.
Aaron Peirsol took second at 1:56.28. Tyler Clary was clocked at 1:56.36.
Lochte is looking forward to representing the U.S. in the Pan Pacific Championships here later this month.
"In two more weeks I'm going to be a lot faster," Lochte said. "I wanted to go into this meet knowing that there's more left for Pan Pacs."
Michael Phelps finished fourth at 1:56.98.
Phelps, who won the 200 freestyle, 200 butterfly, and 100 fly this week to make the Pan Pacs team, said he didn't have high expectations after taking some extra time off late last year and early this year.
"I knew coming in, it really wasn't going to be (a) spectacular week," Phelps said. "I'm somebody who always wants it to be perfect and when it's not I'm extremely hard on myself."
Dana Vollmer swam the second fastest time in the world this year to win the 100-meter freestyle.
Vollmer touched in 53.94 to win her first event at the nationals this year.
"I had been touched out twice and didn't want it to happen again," Vollmer said. "I kept telling myself the last 15 meters that if everybody else fades, that should be my strongest point."
Jessica Hardy was timed in at 54.14 to finish second and earn a spot on the Pan Pacific Championships. Natalie Coughlin, the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist and former American record-holder, took third in 54.34.
Hardy will be competing in her first international championships at the Pan Pac since serving a one-year suspension for testing positive for a banned substance at the 2008 Beijing Olympic trials.
"I'm really happy, it was my best time in a lot of time for me," Hardy said. "That was pretty high pressure, I tried not to think about it.
"I was really relaxed going into the race, but I'm really relieved it went well."
Chloe Sutton recorded a personal-best time of 8:24.77 to win the 800-meter freestyle. Sutton, last year's champion, had the fifth-fastest time in the world this year.
Katie Ziegler finished second at 8:28.14. Haley Anderson touched at 8:32.80 to finish third.
Rebecca Soni continued her dominance at the nationals by winning the 200-meter breaststroke.
Soni, the 2008 Olympic gold medalist, finished in 2:21.60, more than five seconds ahead of second-place Amanda Beard, who touched in 2:26.50.
Beard, who earned a spot on the Pan Pac team with her finish, decided that she would participate after wavering immediately after her surprising result.
Initially, Beard said that she wouldn't compete in the Pan Pac so that she could tend to her son, who was born last September.
"I've never been away from him for more than three hours at a time," the seven-time Olympic medalist said. "So the thought of being at the Pan Pacific Games and leaving him is hard."
Eric Shanteau touched in 2:10.09 to win the 200 breaststroke. He was followed by Scott Spann at 2:12.26 and Elliott Keefer came in third in 2:12.68.
In the 1500-meter freestyle, Chad LaTourette posted the fastest time in the world this year to take first.
LaTourette finished in 14:55.39, followed by Peter Vanderkaay, who touched in 15:03.86. Sean Ryan was third at 15:04.84.
Josh Schneider, who tied Cullen Jones for second in the 50 freestyle on Thursday, agreed to waive his second-place finish, but retained his right to protest and have his time count for the World Championships qualifier.
Schneider didn't show up for the 100 butterfly or scratch out in the morning but continued to compete in the 50 free to tie Jones at 21.97.