Epic Swims: Phelps and Lochte Battle it out in the 200 IM, Shanghai 2011

Americans Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte have battled it out many times in the pool, especially in the 200 IM. The 2011 World Championships in Shanghai were one of the highlights of that decade-long rivalry.

Lochte arrived in Shanghai as the defending world champion in both IMs. However, Phelps came in as a worthy contender for the World title in the 200, having had much success in the prior few years at international meets. That included winning an impressive 8 golds at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

In Shanghai, Lochte and Phelps qualified first and second, respectively, out of the semifinals in the 200 IM. This set up a highly-anticipated battle between the two Americans in the final.

Phelps led after the butterfly leg, but Lochte caught up to him on backstroke and extended his lead by about half a body length over Phelps on the breaststroke. It looked like Phelps had a chance of catching Lochte on the freestyle leg, as the final 25 meters were almost dead-even between the two swimmers. But ultimately it was Lochte who out-touched Phelps for the win by 0.16.

Lochte’s winning time of 1:54.00 bested his own world record of 1:54.10, set at the 2009 World Championships in Rome. Phelps finished in second in a personal best of 1:54.16, while Hungary’s Laszlo Cseh snagged the bronze in 1:57.69.

In watching this video, one can see how dominant Lochte and Phelps were in their day. They were body lengths ahead of the rest of a very talented field throughout the second half of the race. Furthermore, Lochte’s world record remains untouched today, meaning that the next man who breaks it will become the first man in history to break 1:54 in the 200m IM.


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5 months ago

Fun fact that for all Phelps’s achievements in 200IM his PB is from a race he got beat.
Phelps had a good meet in 2011 as much as Bob and Michael say he wasn’t in great shape.
PB in 200IM, last time he would go 1.44 stand up 200free goes 50.7 100fly and wins the 200fly 1.53.3.
Leads of 4×100 in 48.0.
This was Lochte’s Meet tho.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Skoorbnagol
5 months ago

It was definitely Lochte’s meet. His underwater off the 100 turn in the 200 free, when he blew past Phelps, was one of the greatest ever. The one unbecoming thing about Phelps (besides the DUIs) was he rarely gave credit to his competitors who beat him — the exception being his swan song 100 fly when he credited Schooling. His go-to was always hinting at not being in prime shape. If you show up on the blocks, that’s what you live with, no excuses.

Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
5 months ago

He gave credit & respect to to Ian Crocker when Crocker beat him.

Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
5 months ago

Lochte was the beast swimmer in 2011 – beating SC world records already in 2010 ( SCWorlds ) & Producing the most incredible underwater dolphin kicks in the pool – that’s how he got the win in the 200 back, IM & free .

Reply to  Skoorbnagol
5 months ago

Ironic really.

4 consecutive Olympic golds, but his PB is from a race where someone else set the WR…

Old Man Chalmers
5 months ago

great race. first lc wr post 2009, two giants of the sport pretty even the whole way and the one of the few times phelps did a pb and lost

also, kenneth to in lane 1. RIP

5 months ago

Favorite race ever. More swimming skill packed and displayed in two lanes than your usual Olympic final has as a whole