Michael Phelps is slowest qualifier in 400 IM

Michael Phelps qualified eighth-fastest in the 400-meter individual medley preliminaries on Saturday, grabbing the last spot in the evening final.
The two-time defending Olympic champion won his heat in 4 minutes and 13.33 seconds with a time that was well off his world record of 4:03.84 set four years ago in Beijing – when Phelps won a record eight gold medals.
Kosuke Hagino of Japan led the way in 4:10.01. Chad le Clos of South Africa was second at 4:12.24, and Ryan Lochte advanced in third at 4:12.35.
Laszlo Cseh of Hungary (the silver medalist in Beijing) was ninth and missed the final by one spot.

Michael Phelps is slowest qualifier in 400 IM
Michael Phelps.

Phelps, swimming in heat four, never seemed to get out of second gear, which now asks the question did he dangerously misjudge what qualifying would be, or is he out of the condition to swim his most gruelling event.
Phelps just squeaked in, qualifying in lane eight with the slowest time.
At one point Phelps considered dropping the 400m individual medley from his schedule before finally including it for one last crack in London.
With his wonderfully relaxed stroke Phelps appeared as if he might have taken his mind from the job. At the 250m point, the turn in the breaststroke, Hungary’s Laszlo Cseh had nudged ahead of him.
He kept the lead over Phelps until they turned for the final 50m in the freestyle, when Phelps’ pushed ahead to take the heat in 4:13.33, just seven hundredths of a second ahead of Cseh.
In the end, it was the difference between qualifying and not.
Straight into the water after that, for the final heat, was Lochte.
The American coasted to an easy win, slowing down dramatically in the final stages to win his heat and qualify second fastest behind Brazil’s Thiago Pereira.
Unlike Phelps, Lochte always looked in control during his heat and Phelps and Lochte are the greatest rivalry in the pool, with Lochte emerging in recent years to challenge the previously unbeatable Phelps, which included victory over him at the US Olympic trials in late June.
Swimming in Lochte’s heat, Australian Tom Fraser-Holmes also qualified third fastest with an impressive 4:12.66, and will start in lane five tomorrow morning.

Phelps was the eighth and final swimmer to make tonight’s final in the 400-meter individual medal, winning his heat in 4:13.33. Lochte posted the third fastest time in 4:12.35 behind Japan’s Kosuke Hagino and South Africa’s Chad le Clos.
Phelps didn’t seem too concerned immediately after the prelim.
“I was slower this morning than I was four years ago” – Phelps said. “The only thing that matters is getting a spot in. You can’t win a gold medal from the morning.”
Lochte said he didn’t have a great race either.
“It didn’t feel so good” – he said. “But that was my first race and my first race never goes that well. I’m glad I got that out of the way.”
When asked about Phelps, Lochte said: “It’s hard. It’s a tough field. But he’s in. You can’t count him out.”
Phelps can be the first male swimmer to win the same individual event at three consecutive Olympics, but Lochte beat Phelps in this event at the Olympic trials and won gold in it at the world championships in 2009 and 2011. Lochte won bronze in the 400 IM in Beijing.
At trials, Phelps got off well in the butterfly leg but faded in the backstroke, Lochte’s specialty – he is the defending Olympic champ in the 200 back. Lochte was almost two seconds clear of Phelps at the final turn and Phelps made up only about a second of that in the frantic final 50 meters.
Hungary’s Laszlo Cseh, who won silver in Beijing in the 400 IM, didn’t advance out of the prelims.

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