By Greg Stutchbury
SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Ryan Lochte was less than impressed with his swim in the heats of the men's 200 meters individual medley on Wednesday but accepted he had done enough to keep his title defense alive at the world championships in Shanghai.
Lochte will bid for a place in the final later on Wednesday along with Olympic champion Michael Phelps after both swam within themselves.
Lochte, who set the world record at the Rome championships, won the sixth and last heat in one minute 59.04 seconds, easing back in the freestyle leg to finish fourth fastest overall.
Phelps won the fifth heat in 1:59.48 and was eighth fastest. Brazil's Thiago Pereira was the fastest qualifier for the semi-finals in 1:57.82.
"It wasn't really a good swim. I don't know if I would call it tired. I wasn't the same ... as I was yesterday," Lochte, who won the 200 freestyle gold on Tuesday, told reporters.
"The last 20 meters I definitely stopped swimming, so I guess that was part of it.
"I did what I have to do this morning ... to get a lane. It wasn't great time but we will be faster tonight."
The 26-year-old Phelps, who will also swim the final of the 200 butterfly -- his signature event -- later on Wednesday, produced strong breaststroke and freestyle legs before appearing to ease back.
Defending champion and world record holder Cesar Cielo of Brazil qualified fourth fastest for the men's 100 freestyle semi-finals, behind France's William Meynard, Australian James Magnussen and Filippo Magnini of Italy.
"I'm quite satisfied. Even though I'm the world record holder, it's not easy, it just brings more pressure," Cielo told reporters.
Magnussen, whose lead-off leg in the men's 4x100 freestyle relay propelled Australia to an upset victory in the race on Sunday, was buoyant after his swim in his debut world championships.
"Everything went well this morning. I'm pretty happy," Magnussen said. "I need to get this experience. I'm looking forward to London Olympics. Hopefully I can make it."
Japan's Natsumi Hoshi was fastest qualifier in the women's 200 butterfly, while triple Olympic champion Stephanie Rice qualified seventh fastest for the semi-finals.
"It was good and pretty quick. It was a good swim overall," Australian Rice said. "It was my first time to be on the international stage for 200 (butterfly) and it feels really good."
(Additional reporting by Soo Ai Peng; editing by Ossian Shine/Ian Ransom; To comment email firstname.lastname@example.org)