Battle breakdown: Michael Phelps vs. Ryan Lochte in the 200m individual medley

Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte

The 200m individual medley – a true test of a swimmer’s speed, versatility and endurance – has been won at every Olympics since 2004 by Michael Phelps. It’s been won at the world championships every year since 2009 by Ryan Lochte. The standing world record – set at the 2011 World Championships – belongs to Lochte.

Phelps came out on top at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha, Nebraska clocking 1:55.91. Lochte was second in 1:56.22, even while still nursing a groin injury. But both earned the opportunity to swim it at the Rio Olympics.

For Lochte, it represents his only opportunity for an individual swim at the Olympics. He did not qualify to defend his 400m IM gold medal from 2012.

For Phelps, it is an opportunity to become the only swimmer to win four consecutive gold medals in the same event (he also has this chance in the 100m butterfly).

Lochte recently described their rivalry to media, most easily displayed in the 200m IM, as one of the greatest rivalries in sports. The two of them own 93 Olympic and world championship medals between the two of them. They combine for the last five world record progressions on top of all ten of the top 10 all-time performances.

Here’s how their times break down over the years.

Phelps Lochte
2003 Worlds Gold, 1:56.04 Did not swim
2004 Trials First, 1:56.71 Second, 1:59.41
2004 Olympics Gold, 1:57.14 Silver, 1:58.78
2005 Worlds Gold, 1:56.68 Bronze, 1:57.79
2007 Worlds Gold, 1:54.98 Silver, 1:56.19
2008 Trials First, 1:54.80 Second, 1:55.22
2008 Olympics Gold, 1:54.23 Bronze, 1:56.53
2009 Worlds Did not swim Gold, 1:54.10
2011 Worlds Silver, 1:54.16 Gold, 1:54.00
2012 Trials First, 1:54.84 Second, 1:54.93
2012 Olympics Gold, 1:54.27 Silver, 1:54.90
2013 Worlds Did not swim Gold, 1:54.98
2015 Worlds Did not swim Gold, 1:55.81
2016 Trials First, 1:55.91 Second, 1:56.22
2016 Olympics (heats) Second, 1:58.41 First, 1:57.38
2016 Olympics (semifinal) First, 1:55.87 Second, 1:56.78

*Phelps posted the top time of 2015 at U.S. Nationals, clocking 1:54.75

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