Ryan Lochte, the swimming megastar who throughout the 21st century has been equal parts controversial and successful, came up short in his bid for a fifth Olympics on Friday night.
Lochte, 36, finished seventh in the 200-meter individual medley at U.S. swimming trials in Omaha, Nebraska. Only the top two — Michael Andrew and Chase Kalisz — could qualify to swim the event in Tokyo.
The race represented Lochte’s best and last shot to make the U.S. team. Throughout the week, he either scratched or failed to advance past prelims in other events.
He’d focused on the 200 IM, the race that first made him an Olympian 17 years ago, a race that he still owns the world record.
At 200 IM prelims Thursday morning, Lochte posted the second-fastest time and announced himself as a contender.
At semifinals that evening, he placed sixth, good enough to reach Friday’s final. He knew that swim was “not a good one,” and vowed to improve 24 hours later.
But the young limbs in neighboring lanes had too much speed. And Lochte slowed, to 1:59.67 seconds, more than 4 seconds behind Andrew and 2.7 seconds behind Kalisz.—AP