Michael Phelps is world's second-best in 200-meter freestyle
He's encouraged by his time of 1 minute, 44.79 seconds, which was good enough for second at the world championships Tuesday in Shanghai. Plus, he was runner-up to a good friend, U.S. teammate Ryan Lochte, who won the race in 1:44.44.
“I can't complain,” Phelps said. "I'm bummed I didn't win, but you know at the same time, with what we've done over the last six to eight months, I'm over a second faster than I was last year. … So I'm headed in the right direction.”
Phelps added of Lochte: “He's the only person I'll even say anything to in the ready room. We can joke around. ... We're super laid-back, super relaxed. We have fun. We love to race each other. … We bring the best out of each other.”
Another positive for Phelps is that he finished ahead of Paul Biedermann of Germany, who got the bronze in 1:44.88. Phelps was runner-up to Biedermann at the last world championships two years ago.
This time around Phelps led at the 50 and 100 marks before Lochte, who was in the next lane, made his move.
“I knew Michael wanted to go out just to clean water, so I knew I had to be in striking distance and just work what I'm good at — those underwaters on each turn,” said Lochte, who also beat Phelps in the 200 individual medley and 200 backstroke at last year's U.S. championships, then won six gold medals to Phelps' five at the Pan Pacific Championships in 2010.
Phelps also qualified third behind Japan's Takeshi Matsuda and China's Chen Yin in the 200 butterfly semifinals Tuesday.
-- Chuck Schilken
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Photo: Ryan Lochte, right, and Michael Phelps on the podium Tuesday at the world championships in Shanghai. Credit: Michael Sohn / Associated Press