(Reuters) - Ryan Lochte held off a fast-finishing Michael Phelps to win the 200 meters individual medley at the U.S. National Championships in Irvine, California on Sunday. Trailing by almost a second and a half at one point, Phelps displayed his famous finishing kick and nearly made up the deficit in the final 50 meters to bring the crowd to its feet.
Lochte, the world record holder in the event, touched first in a time of 1:56.50, just ahead of Phelps in 1:56.55.
“We both hate to lose but we enjoy racing each other,” Phelps told reporters. “Hopefully we can push each other and see what happens.” For Phelps, the result was a positive sign that his comeback from retirement is on the right track. In the most significant meet since Phelps launched his comeback in May, the 18-times Olympic champion finished seventh in the 100m freestyle on Wednesday and second in the 100m butterfly on Friday.
The meet is also serving as a qualifier for the Aug. 21-24 Pan Pac Championships in Australia.
(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Peter Rutherford)