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 on Friday night 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.
|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