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Phelps was concerned about Lochte

August 14, 2008 |  8:55 pm

Michael Phelps , right, with his compatriot Ryan Lochte after Phelps won the gold medal in the men's 200-meter individual medley. Lochte won the bronze.

BEIJING -- You can argue between Aaron Peirsol and Ryan Lochte about who is the best in the world at the backstroke, but you have to choose one or the other.

Lochte is the reason Michael Phelps was concerned about the 200-meter individual medley Friday. He knew Lochte was better in the backstroke. But Phelps also knew Lochte had to swim a mere 31 minutes earlier in the 200 backstroke final, which he won over Peirsol.

Phelps' strategy was to go out fast and make sure Lochte couldn't catch up in his signature stroke.

It worked.

"I just wanted to step on it in the first 50 a little bit and try to get out to an early lead,'' Phelps said. "I knew it was a hard double for Ryan. I knew in the first half if I got a big enough lead, I thought I could hang on and that's all I wanted to do.''

As it turned out, Lochte wasn't a factor. He was tired from his earlier swim, in which he needed a world record to beat Peirsol.

In the 200 IM, Phelps had a better time than Lochte in all strokes, including the backstroke.

Phelps set the world record at 1:54.23. Lochte finished 2.30 seconds behind in third place. Hungary's Laszlo Cseh finished second, 2.29 seconds behind Phelps.

Next challenger for Phelps: Ian Crocker in the 100-meter butterfly.

-- Lisa Dillman and Randy Harvey

Photo: Michael Phelps, right, with his compatriot Ryan Lochte after Phelps won the gold medal in the men's 200-meter individual medley. Lochte won the bronze. Credit: Itsuo Inouye / Associated Press

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