OMAHA, Neb. - Ryan Lochte finished more than a second ahead of Michael Phelps in the 200-meter individual medley semifinals Friday night and immediately started planning for his busy Saturday at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials.
Lochte swam two events Friday, finishing in front of Tyler Clary in the 200 backstroke semifinals before going against Phelps in the evening program's last race.
Lochte is on track to have three races Saturday night, with the 100 butterfly semifinals in addition to the finals in the 200 backstroke and 200 IM.
"I'm up for the challenge," he said. "It's something I've been doing for four years now, so I'm definitely ready."
Lochte called his backstroke and IM "pretty solid swims."
He touched the wall in 1 minute, 55.73 seconds in the backstroke, beating Clary by 15-hundredths of a second.
Clary already made the Olympic team by finishing second in the 200 butterfly Thursday, and he said he was able to swim much more relaxed Friday even as he continues to recover from a viral infection.
"I'm a heck of a lot more confident than I was Monday," he said, referring to his third-place finish in the 400 IM. "Last night was a huge weight off my shoulders. I'm starting to feel like myself more each day."
About 45 minutes after Lochte swam the backstroke, he clocked a 1:55.51 in the IM. Phelps finished in 1:56.66.
"I had to do what I had to do to get my hand on the wall first and get a spot for the finals," Lochte said. "Tomorrow it's going to be a dogfight."
Lochte created separation with his chief rival on the breaststroke leg, swimming it in 32.95 seconds to Phelps' 33.30.
"I knew he kind of took off," Phelps said, "so I was like I probably should save something for tomorrow. I kind of shut it down once the race was kind of over. I kind of figured we were moving a little bit. 1:56 is right where I've been this year, so that's fine."
CRIPPEN'S HEARTBREAK: Teresa Crippen's bid to make the U.S. team in the 200 butterfly ended when she finished fourth in Friday's final.
Crippen has been swimming with a heavy heart for two years, since her brother Fran Crippen's death during an open-water swimming World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.
She finished in 2:09.45, well behind top two finishers Cammile Adams and Kathleen Hersey.
"I've done everything I can these past 22 years trying to get ready for this race," Crippen said. "I lost it in the pool. If it wasn't for the University of Florida and (coach) Richard Shoulberg and my family, I wouldn't have been in the pool the last two years anyway."
Crippen said she did the best she could to control her emotions during the trials.
"It's hard not to feel (sadness) every single day," she said. "I tried to put it behind me for this meet, but it's a weight I'll have to bear the rest of my life."
HERSEY'S SECOND CHANCE: Kathleen Hersey wanted a second chance after what she called a disastrous showing at the 2008 Olympics. She blamed nerves and insomnia for her eighth-place finish in the 200 butterfly in Beijing.
After finishing second to Cammile Adams in the finals of the event at the trials, she'll get another opportunity in London. Adams finished in 2:06.52 and Hersey in 2:07.72.
Hersey said she didn't swim the perfect race. Again, she had to contend with anxiety.
"When you get yourself into this nervous state it's really hard to get out of," she said. "All the breathing exercises, all the yoga I could do only helped to a certain point."
Hersey's mother died recently, and she said she found inspiration in her memory.
"I felt like there was more than swimming on the line," she said. "This wouldn't happen if there wasn't a reason. I felt her presence so much today. The relationship has changed and is much more intimate now. She's part of me."
MEYER FINALLY HAS COMPANY: Open-water swimmer Alex Meyer is happy to have some company on the U.S. Olympic team.
Meyer became the first swimmer to qualify last July, when he finished fourth in the 10K Open Water World Championships in Shanghai, China.
"I've been the only one, so it was a little lonely on the 2012 Olympic team the past year," Meyer said.
Meyer is soaking up the atmosphere of the swimming trials this weekend along with the United States' female open-water qualifier, Haley Anderson, and open-water coach Tim Murphy. Anderson qualified for London two weeks ago at an event in Portugal.
Having a year to prepare for London has benefited Meyer, who has recovered from a broken collarbone he sustained in a bicycling accident last winter.
"The length of time, there's maybe a greater sense of responsibility Alex has had to carry," Murphy said. "I don't know that it's become a burden. In this case, with Alex's injury in January, it was really good from a timing standpoint. Can't complain about that at all."
Open-water swimming became an Olympic sport in 2008. It will be contested in a lake known as the Serpentine in London's Hyde Park.
BEARD STILL IN CONTENTION: Amanda Beard remains in contention to make her fifth Olympic team.
The 30-year-old finished fifth in the 200 breaststroke semifinals with a time of 2:25.90.
Defending Olympic gold medalist Rebecca Soni touched in 2:21.45, the fastest time of the year. Micah Lawrence was second in 2:24.12.
"I definitely want to go faster," Beard said. "That's exactly what I wanted to do in the semifinals - go 2:25. I knew it would take something like that to get into the finals. Now I have a new time in my head for tomorrow night. Cross my fingers, get a lot of rest and hopefully I can do it."
Speaking of fingers, Beard wears her wedding ring when she competes. She said it doesn't create any drag.
"I took it off once for a race and didn't do very well," she said. "I don't notice it. (It's) my good luck charm, I guess."