IRVINE, Calif. — Ryan Lochte beat Michael Phelps to win the 200-meter individual medley at the U.S. national championships Sunday night, leaving Phelps winless in four races at his biggest meet since coming out of retirement.
Lochte, the world champion, led all the way and touched in 1 minute, 56.50 seconds Sunday night. He is coming off major knee surgery, which limited his training.
“This year has been up and down, but I’m glad I got a win knowing that I really haven’t done the work I wanted to,” he said.
Phelps, the three-time Olympic champion in the event, chased Lochte throughout and pulled into the wall second in 1:56.55. Lochte’s time was second-fastest in the world this year; Phelps’ was third-quickest.
“If you go out in that race it’s pretty painful in the end,” Phelps said.
It was Lochte’s first victory of the five-day meet after finishing second in the 100 freestyle and third in the 200 backstroke.
Four months into his comeback, Phelps came up empty. He finished second in the 100 butterfly, sixth in the 100 back and seventh in the 100 free.
Olympian Tyler Clary was third in 1:57.94.
Lochte, Phelps and Clary are headed to Australia to compete in the Pan Pacific Championships this month.
Simone Manuel won the 50 freestyle in 24.56 seconds to go with her second-place finish in the 100 free.
Natalie Coughlin, at 31 the oldest woman competing at nationals, finished sixth. She failed to make her record-tying fifth Pan Pacific team and as a result won’t qualify for next year’s world championships. That leaves Coughlin out of the two biggest international meets leading up to the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Melanie Margalis won the 200 individual medley in 2:10.20 to earn a berth at her first major international meet.
Swimming on the far outside in lane eight, Katy Campbell won the 1,500 freestyle in 16:17.59 after world record-holder Katie Ledecky decided not to swim on the meet’s final night. Ledecky set a world record in the 400 freestyle on Saturday, giving her world marks in the 400, 800 and 1,500 at the same time.