Michael Phelps has made more history, winning gold in the men's 200-meter individual medley in 1:54:27. Having already established himself as the most decorated Olympian of all time, Phelps is now the first male swimmer to win three consecutive gold medals in the same event.
Teammates on the U.S. swim team, Ryan Lochte and Phelps entered the race as the top two seeds after finishing 1-2 in the semifinal. They finished 1-2 in the final but the order was reversed. Lochte finished second to win silver while Laszlo Cseh of Hungary touched the wall third.
One of the most hyped head-to-head rivalries before the Olympics began, the "Phelpte" drama produced a 1-1 draw. Lochte struck first, with a dominant win over his teammate in the 400-meter individual medley. Between that event and Phelps' win in the 200-meter IM, the pair had been relay partners rather than competitors.
This is Phelps' first individual gold medal of the London Olympics and his 16th career gold medal. In London, Phelps has already won gold in the men's 4x200-meter freestyle relay and silver in the 4x100-meter relay. With his 2012 Olympics program not yet complete, Phelps already has 20 career medals, two more than Russian gymnast Larisa Latynina. Phelps tied Latynina's record of 18 Olympic medals with his silver in the 200-meter butterfly and then took sole possession of first place on the all-time medal list with his gold in the 4x-200-meter free relay. Lochte was also on the team with Phelps in that race.
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Lochte's lone bronze came not long before the 200-meter IM final, when he swam in the 200-meter backstroke final. Another American, Tyler Clary, won gold in that race, setting an Olympic record in the process.
Phelps also had a busy schedule on Thursday night, returning to the pool after collecting his 20th medal for the 100-meter butterfly semifinal. The 27-year-old Maryland native finished with the fastest semifinal time and will look to record his second Olympics three-peat on Friday night.
After Lochte's powerhouse performance in the 400-meter IM, it looked like he (and his diamond grill) was going to make good on his pre-Olympics descriptions of the London Games as "my time." After that dramatic early win, the Telegraph proclaimed that Lochte was "the new king of the waters and forced Michael Phelps to the margins where there are no medals."
While Lochte's haul of five medals in London is undoubtedly an impressive accomplishment, Phelps has proved that he will not be marginalized, even if his own skills have diminished from their 2008 zenith.
Having split their meetings, perhaps Phelps and Lochte will agree to say that this was "our time."
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story stated Michael Phelps won the 400-meter individual medley.
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