Produced by Coleman Hodges.
Reported by Lauren Neidigh.
Despite missing the final in the 400 I.M. on Thursday, Will Licon stepped up to the blocks for the 200 I.M. as a man on a mission. He came into prelims with a best time of 2:01.44, but was ripe for a big swim after showing incredible progress at NCAAs. Licon smashed through the 2:00 barrier to take the top seed in 1:58.50, surpassing 2nd seed Austin Surhoff (1:58.80).
The 3rd seed went to Michael Phelps, who’s been on a roll since Thursday. He looked smooth the whole way through, but his 2nd 100 looked particularly easy. Phelps clocked the 3rd fastest time overall at 1:59.63, with splits of 25.45/30.24/34.35/29.59. He’s been making big drops from prelims to finals, so look for him to race for the world’s fastest time tonight. That currently belongs to Ryan Lochte at 1:55.81.
Gunnar Bentz, 400 I.M. National Champion, will take the 4th spot in finals after finishing behind Phelps in 2:00.93. He’s just ahead of Spain’s Eduardo Solaeche-Gomez (2:01.14) and Australia’s Travis Mahoney (2:01.26).
Max Litchfield grabbed 7th in 2:01.47. Behind him, Ryan Harty dropped almost 3 seconds to earn the 8th spot in the final at 2:01.78.
Interestingly, David Nolan did not show up for this race. Nolan recently set the American Record in the yards version of this event.