Michael Phelps won his 21st career Olympic gold medal on Tuesday night, aided by Ryan Lochte in the 4x200m freestyle relay. By also winning gold, Lochte became the second most-decorated male Olympic swimmer of all-time.
But Wednesday, it was all about individual credentials at stake. Phelps and Lochte went head-to-head in their 200m individual medley semifinal.
Phelps came away with the victory, clocking one minute, 55.78 seconds to post the fastest time across both semifinals. Lochte raced to 1:56.28. Both men will advance to Thursday night’s final, about a second ahead of the rest of the field. Joining them in the final will be Brazil’s Thiago Pereira, who won a silver medal in the 400m IM at the 2012 London Olympics and 400m IM gold medalist Kosuke Hagino of Japan.
"The history him and I have had with one another is something special and something I’ve never had with another competitor of mine," Lochte said of Phelps after the semifinal. "We’ve been racing for the last 12 years and having one more battle tomorrow. It will be fun. I consider that Ryan and I have probably grown closer together as friends this year than we have in the past. We have one more time to hop in the pool and duke it out."