Lochte Wins 400 IM Final to Stamp First Ticket to London; American Record for Dana Vollmer

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It’s time for night one of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials in Omaha, Nebraska, and with 6 spots for the Olympic Games on the blocks (and at least one World Record with a huge bullseye on its back), the first night of competition is due to set the tone for the rest of the meet. That tone was set early by Gregg Troy’s Gators. There’s a reason that he’s the US Men Olympic Team Head Coach, as 4 of the 6 Olympic spots handed out on Monday went to his Florida Gators. That’s an impressive first day.

The arena has fans up to the rafters, and it’s time to get the action going. With fireworks locked and loaded, it’s time for day 1 from Omaha.

Men’s 400 IM

And this was it. The matchup between Michael Phelps, the greatest ever; Ryan Lochte, the greatest of right now; and Tyler Clary, the underdog hungry to win it all. The redux of this monumental event would be incomplete with acknowledging that for all of the fans wondering who will win and who will win 2nd, the motto of the 2012 Olympic Trials is whoever is 1st is 1st and whoever is 2nd is also 1st.

With that being said, I think that Ryan Lochte firmly established himself as number one in this race. He blew away the field in the breaststroke (he’s now clearly a better breaststroker than Phelps, whereas two years ago it was fairly even), and then had opened the gap to almost two seconds before almost a Usain-Bolt-esque final 10-meters. Lochte was even faster than a great butterflier Chase Kalisz in this swim.

Lochte touched first in 4:07.06, clearly the best time in the world this year, and Phelps was 2nd in 4:07.89. Lochte’s time is faster than he was at last year’s World Championships where he won the gold medal (and Phelps was better than anybody not named Lochte was in 2011). Phelps still holds the textile-best in 4:06.22, but Lochte’s time was the second fastest 400 IM ever done not in rubber.

To answer the question, I think this result elaborates on what Bob Bowman said in an interview earlier today: the goal here is to make the team. 8-tenths is not enough to scare Phelps, the greatest swimmer ever, from anybody. But Lochte continues his streak of dominance in the race, and he’s got no reason to be scared anymore either. Two fearless.

Though he finished 3rd, and off of the Olympic Team, in 4:09.92, Tyler Clary really put the first charge into this 400 IM final, when he broke open a big lead in the first three strokes of the backstroke. At the turn of that backstroke leg, By the time they got to the turn, though, Phelps and Lochte had caught on and fought their way back.

With the flare of pyrotechnics in the form of flames 15-feet high in literally feet from their face, the rest of the field seemed demoralized. In 4th was Andrew Gemmell in 4:16.07. Michael Weiss from Wisconsin continued his incredible run from nowhere in the last 6-months by taking 5th in 4:16.31. That’s 5-seconds faster than he had ever been coming into this meet.

Women’s 100 Fly Semifinal

Dana Vollmer said that she was going to break the World Record in this meet. She might not have meant the semi-finals, but she surely took her blistering prelims swim up to another level with a 56.42 in the 2nd heat of the women’s 100 fly semi-final. That’s both the fastest time ever swum in textile and a new American Record, in both cases cracking her 56.47 from last year’s World Championships in Shanghai.

Vollmer seems to still be on track to break the World Record if she can hold things together for finals. She is taking her races out WAY faster this year than last year, a look at the comparative splits below demonstrates that.

Vollmer ’11: 26.63-29.84
Vollmer ’12: 26.42 – 30.00

She needs to be able to hold it together and finish under 30 seconds though.

Now the question is for her competitors what will Vollmer do in finals. Last year in Shanghai, she was four-tenths slower than that record in final. That still means we’d need two swimmers who can go 56.8’s in finals to keep her off of the team.

Vollmer pulled her heat with her, as that second final pulled in the three-fastest morning times, with Elaine Breeden continuing to impress in 58.81 for the 2nd seed, and Kathleen Hersey just behind in 58.19. After saying she didn’t like her swim in prelims this morning very much, that’s a big half-second drop for her and just misses her lifetime best in the race.

Moral of the story, nobody’s going to get to Vollmer in finals. The pressure is off her. Claire Donahue, who was a 57 in prelims, wasn’t as good in this race with a 58.53 to tie with Tennessee’s Kelsey Floyd for 6th in 58.53 (a great time for Floyd, not as much for Donahue). Christine Magnuson just snuck into the top 8, again, with a 58.72.

Men’s 400 Free Final

This men’s 400 free was the most exciting 400 free race we’ve seen on American soil in a long, long, time, if not ever. But for all of the jockeying of positions in the top four swimmers of this race: only two men ever held the lead: Charlie Houchin for the majority of the first 375 meters, and Peter Vanderkaay for the last half-a-lap. Houchin simply burned out at the end of the race: his closing 50 of 29.38 was the second-slowest in the entire field, and the first 350 doesn’t mean anything without that final 50.

Vanderkaay didn’t really close so hot himself, but did enough work for 3 minutes to stay in the hunt that he was in position to grab the win in 3:47.67. If he’s tapered, that will be a very disappointing time from his 3:44.8 last year. He was out about as fast, but he didn’t have as big of a kick around the 300 meter mark. Dwyer was 2nd in 3:47.83, which is three-seconds better than he had ever been coming into this race. If he and Vanderkaay are truly on the same training schedule, and there’s definitely no guarantees of that, he could be the better in London.

Houchin in a matter of about 15 strokes faded all the way back to 4th in 3:48.32. The man who really looked like he might catch them all was Michael Klueh from the outside lane 1. He closed well better than anyone else, but I think he just misjudged this race a little bit. He needed to turn on the jets one turn sooner, and that misjudgement cost him a trip to London. He was 3rd in 3:48.17 – missing Dwyer by three-tenths for a trip to London. This was likely his best opportunity.

Women’s 400 IM Final

After prelims, we quipped that after Elizabeth Beisel’s 400 IM, she didn’t look tired and appeared more as if she had come down out of the warmdown pool. We’ve got good news to report for fans of the speed: the Florida Gators looked dead crawling out of the pool after this 400 IM final. But it was well worth it, as she put up a 4:31.74 – faster than she was at last year’s World Championships, snapping her own textile-best by .04, and the 10th-best time in history (and, by default, the best in the world in 2012). Beisel has clearly made strides in the breaststroke; that may be in response to Leverenz specifically or the way that IM’s are trending globally (Hannah Miley, who was the World leader before today, is also a phenomenal breaststroker), but it’s working.

She led Caitlin Leverenz after the breaststroke leg, and with that lead, there was no way Leverenz was going to catch her. But what Leverenz did too is re-establish herself as a medal-contender in London. She appeared to be headed that way before finishing last in the finals at Worlds last season, but her 4:34.48 was a personal best and jumped her ahead of Caitlin Sandeno for 3rd on the all-time list of Americans.

Texas A&M’s Cammile Adams was, not unexpectedly, out very well in this 400 IM. But she just still doesn’t have the breaststroke to keep up with the likes of Leverenz and Beisel among the best in the world. She’s about the same age as those two, but hasn’t spent as much time working on this 400 IM, so she might still develop that breaststroke in her career. For now, her 4:38.62 (plus a gutsy finish to out-touch Maya Dirado by .05) should give her a big hope that her taper is going well, and that she should have a good result in the 200 fly.

Clearwater Aquatics 14-year old, the youngest finalist we saw on this first day of competition, had a huge swim for 5th in 4:41.61. That ranks only behind a single, NAG Record from Katie Hoff in 2004 as the 2nd-fastest time ever swum by a 14 & under. If she can avoid a burnout, she’s got a bright future in a huge number of races.

Trojan Swim Club’s Haley Anderson only put up a 4:46.12 in the final after being three-seconds better in prelims. I think that shows that, despite probably swimming well here anyway, she’s still got her full intent on the open water race at the Olympics.

Men’s 100 Breast Semi’s

In the last set of races, the men’s 100 breaststroke semi-finals, the Florida Gators finally relented after dominating early action and “chose” not to even put anybody through to finals. For the sake of not totally demorazling the rest of the country. Afterall, Gregg Troy has an Olympic Team to worry about.

Brendan Hansen took advantage of that gap to blast a 59.71, which makes him the first American to break the minute barrier in textile in this race since he did so 6-years ago in 2006. Hansen now moves to 4th in the world this year. His is by-far the most successful of the global comebacks that we’ve seen this year. And the Americans need it too.

That was a great swim – but he said in his post-race interview that his legs fell out of sync at the end of his race. The result, though was him being forced to pick up his tempo, and his hands became a little bit quicker. But that’s just enough to plant a seed of hope in the minds of his competitors’ minds.

Among those competitors is Scott Weltz, one of the best stories of these Olympic Trials that nobody is buzzing about yet. He was a very mediocre swimmer when he graduated from college at UC-Davis a few years ago (in relative terms), but he’s come on like a bullet-train. Even in December, he swam a best time and it was only 1:01.65. Now he’s going 1:00.20 and is the second-seed headed into the finals with a chance at the Olympic Trials.

Mark Gangloff also looked spectacular in 1:00.22 for the 3rd seed – the wily veteran is getting it done at the right time for this meet. That’s right on the number he was at the World Championships last year. This is going to be a spectacular final as I think Hansen will come back to the field, and there’s a ton of depth suddenly forming in the race. Eric Shanteau was 4th in 1:00.27, and Marcus Titus was 5th in 1:00.49.

The young-gun Kevin Cordes also made the final in 6th in 1:00.53. That’s a new National Age Group Record for 17-18’s, marking the third time he’s broken that mark (previously held by Brendan Hansen) in this same pool – once at the SwimVitational, and twice on Monday at Trials.

The only tough-luck out from the finals is John Criste, who was the fastest swimmer in prelims, added more than a second to finish 12th in 1:01.27.

Full results available here.

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Where are the Lochte haters?


How can someone hate him??? how? he is a hard working dude. talented, handsome and charismatic.


I completely agree! But the haters have commenting all afternoon.


have been*


We’re here, don’t worry. 🙂
Have you seen his T-shirt with his own face printed on it? This man’s ego has no boundaries…


He is one of the nicest, most humble people you will ever meet.Great teammate and competitor….


On top of that he has a great sense of humor


Lemme see…. if I….

got 2nd to Phelps every years since birth…

then I get no love after 08 Olympics, playing 2nd fiddle to “Mr Swimming”…

I finally beat Phelps TWICE on the world stage, breaking his OWN record in the process….


yeah don’t see a problem here…



agree, Hate someone just for wearing his own shirt is just stupid. If was handsome as he is I would were a shirt with my face everyday.



Honestly, I agree I don’t know how people can hate on anyone that trains and dedicates as hard as any of these athletes do! I’m a swim coach in CT and all my swimmers aspire to be like these athletes – and they’re fantastic role models! I was privileged to meet Ryan Lochte, Nathan Adrian and Kristy Kowal this past October and I’ve never met more patient, humbling and kind people. They are unbelievable athletes and some of the best role models I can think of. At least 3 of my swimmer’s rock Lochte’s swim caps at practice (that has his face with grill intact on it). He’s gonna be him love him or hate him – I for one… Read more »


Wearing shirts and caps with your own face is just plain distasteful – I don’t care what you’ve done in your life. Can you imagine Roger Federer wearing a T-shirt with his face all over it? Neither can I. Kudos for Lochte for working hard and winning golds. Too bad he’s not working as hard on his personality.


Comparison with Federer is not appropriate.
Federer (or ANY other top tennis players) does not need to promote himself to get millions of dollars of commercial/marketing/advertising contracts.
Swimmers have to devise creative ways to earn more dollars and attract mainstream interest. Either that, or you win 8 golds at the Olympics.

What Lochte has done with his commercial undertakings may not fit into many people’s taste, but I really don’t get why all these hate heaped on Lochte.


As I predicted few times here (and I received the flak from saying it), it needn’t a 4:05 to win the 400 IM. I am just surprised that many people were that over-hyped and forgot that 4:05 would have been a super incredible swim, and forgetting the fact that Phelps’ textile absolute best was a 4:06 from 2007 worlds (where I think he was at his most absolute peak, physical-wise). I am a bit surprised by Beisel’s 4:31 as I thought she could have done a 4:30. Leverenz’ 4:34 is not a good sign, I don’t think she’s in the picture for a medal in London as Miley and Rice did 4:34/4:35 without taper and only with little rest. Vollmer’s… Read more »

Justin Thompson

That 400fr was downright pitiful. We are going to get smoked by the rest of the world in this event. Not 1 top 10 time from a tapered crew? I’m thinking Lochte should have swam it just to make it respectful for the US.


The 400 Free times were disappointing, but I think both Dwyer and PVK will be faster in London. It seems like PVK might have mis-timed his taper. Rowdy Gaines said that he’s “a big boy” and needs a lot of rest, so maybe he just hasn’t rested enough. If that is the case, PVK must be very relieved that he’s made the team already and has a chance to swim faster in London. And I think Connor Dwyer has room for more improvement in the 400 Free. Traditionally, he swims the IMs and the freestyles and probably trains for both disciplines. My guess is that he had to pick between the 400 IM and the 400 Free. The 400 IM… Read more »


In retrospect, Clary should have swam it, he had a shot.


You may be right, but he knew he wasn’t going to medal in London in 400 free. On the other hand, if he had taken one of 2 spots in 400 IM, an Olympic medal would have been a strong possibility.


Liliana, I agree with your analyses.
Also, it seems Clary was really surprised that Phelps actually decided to swim the 400 IM. He clearly banked on Phelps not swimming it.
But if Clary’s goal is to win gold in London (as he alluded in the swimswam interview) or even to medal, he should have gone a few seconds faster than 4:09 in the trials, because Cseh and Hagino are clearly more than capable of swimming sub 4:09


Miley doesn’t train in the traditional way and tends to do quick times year round. She said after trials that she hopes that she can peak in the summer as several times in the past she’s done her best times early in the year at British Nats. Rice can be quick in season as well. Last year at Santa Clara she swam a 4:36 a couple months out from Worlds.

M Dressman

Hanna trains old school plus ALOT of out of the box stuff. She will be ready for London.

John Sampson

I think beisels time is perfect…she will be faster in london. She’s gaining lots of momentum. Leverenz got a best time! She too can go a 4:32, I just don’t see that being enough. Her best shot is the 200 IM.

I would hope the 400 free winners weren’t tapered…otherwise it looks like the weakness will be the distance swims rather the sprints come London.

As much as I like phelps and lochte (I don’t get the bickering,they both have earned their own rights at different times as greatest swimmers of all time–and how can we complain when they both sport the red/white/blue? USA!) ..i vote a tie in London!


I am not as certain Leverenz can go 4:32, but I agree with what you said that even a 4:32 wouldn’t even win a minor medal.


Maybe, but it’s a solid swim that bodes well for her 200IM. She’s on the team now, less pressure.


Actually, I agree that she has much much better medal hopes in the 200 IM. Her weak back/free would be less exposed.

Justin Thompson

Nobody hates him, just some of us would rather see him get a silver in London when he races the great one:)


I think I hate the word “haters” more than any other word. At least the use of it.


Guys, I myself respect and appreciate what Phelps has done for the sport sooo much more than Lochte. Lochte is fake, he puts up this image like he’s so charismatic and witty, but you can tell he’s soft spoken and an air head.

Lochte, dude give up the false Dennis Rodman image it doesn’t work, and the grill you tried to throw up was not only lame but but disrespectful to the U.S. As well. Try to learn from Phelps who is “the one” in swimming and brings a pure, passionate image to the sport of swimming like Michael Jordan did for basketball. Guess I’m on the Lochte hater crew, sorry but the guy deserves it.

Nigel Tufnel

Michael Jordan? Kevin, did you say “pure” in describing MJ – try ego maniacal and selfish. Jordan is going to go down as one of the all time biggest jerks in sports history: ask his wife, his kids, or the African-American community he’s ignored for the last 25 years. MJ is passionate about golf, himself, & gambling. Criticize Lochte for being goofy but don’t stain Phelps by comparing him to Jordan.


Ok ok you’re right, god you make Jordan sound like Obama,’ neglecting the black community’, ‘only caring about golf’- that’s the last person I want him to compare him too, guess I need to take a basketball history course. How about this, no longer is he the MJ of swimming, but the Babe Ruth

On their ability to always perform at the highest level and dominance both MJ and Phelps bring day in and day out, I will stick with that comparison Nigel!


Not sure if you want to compare Phelps to Babe Ruth.
Wasn’t Ruth a big Drunk??


Lol, nothing like Olympic Years to bring out the know-nothings of swimming. Get out of here. Lochte works his ass off, is all around a nice guy, and he does things like the grill for fun, because he loves rap, and all that. Disrespectful to the US? Get over yourself. In what way? I guess I could say Phelps’ bong-smoking was disrespectful to the US, if you’re going to go that route (even though I’m not even going to bother trying to compare the two because either way it’s stupid). But hey, I can’t expect much from someone who can only make basketball comparisons. You obviously know zero about our sport, except what you see in the media. Do us… Read more »


Sorry BMAN no can do, I have too many words of wisdom to share and in too little time, see you in the next article.


I couldn’t agree more on “hater” word. Seems like no one is entitled to criticize Lochte, because if you do that, you have to be a hater, right?
I’ve been following swimming since before Phelps or Lochte were born. I have never hated any swimmer (or any athlete, for that matter) nor do I intend to, but. if there is something that’s bothering me about someone’s behaviour, I’m going to say it.

Nigel Tufnel

Thanks for the much needed breath of positive fresh air Liliana. Comparisons are difficult because we immediately go towards the negative. What Michael did in ’08 is nothing short of remarkable – it is a unique chapter in the swimming-specific book of history. Comparisons to Ruth, Jordan and other dominate sports icons are problematic because they don’t hold up as well when considering our sport. We’re all swimmers here and I’d like to think we all “get it” – pain, solitude, mornings, dry skin, etc. Big Picture: let’s give Phelps & Lochte a special place in our own history books. Ryan has carved out his own niche in that book (apart from Phelps in my mind) and should he do… Read more »


What place does your criticism of Lochte’s t-shirt have within this article?

Whether I used the word “haters” or not, it wouldn’t have changed the fact that not one negative comment about Phelps appeared here while several about Lochte did. They both had great swims and will go 1-2 for the USA in London.


“What place does your criticism of Lochte’s t-shirt have within this article?”

You should ask yourself what place YOUR comment about “haters” has within this article. Mine was said half jokingly, there’s no such thing as hating here. When he appears on national TV during prime time in a shirt with his own face on it, that’s a part of his overall image and it can and will be under scrutiny. People are talking about Phelps’ headphones, Lochte’s shirt etc. It’s all about get some publicity, a good or bad one. In my opinion, an Olympic champion doesn’t need to walk around with “listen to Ryan Lochte” shirt, even Lady Gaga doesn’t do it. That’s all.


hahah my comment was a question, which you promptly answered: “We’re here, don’t worry.”


Are you serious?! Then count me in! 🙂

Jean Michel

I love Ryan Lochte ! iknew he would win tonight ! let’s stay mostly passionate here . Hater/lovers ….forget that vibe GOSHARKS . TIME is for enjoying …enjoy !


Go Him, really happy for Ryan, what he said is true, 4 year of hard work.

and NBC has no respect for him, I know they are obsessed with Phelps, but came on. That Lady made everything about Michael. She might as well have ask Ryan: Why did you won, you shouldn’t have.

“First person to made the team for the forth time”. “your coach said you could be better” bla bla bla.

the question that she wanted to ask probably was: you are going to beat this loser, right?


You say this like making the Olympic team four times is something your grandma could do and it’s not even worth mentioning…


Of course not, it´s a big deal, but they should have praised the winner first. it was disgusting. She treat Ryan like a undeserved winner.




Standard practice to interview the 2nd place finisher first. Watch…


Are you Phelps sister?


I don’t think Phelps sister hates Ryan


Lol, why? You think Phelps’ sisters are the only ones who would stand for him?

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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