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Ryan Lochte (R) races against Michael Phelps of the United States in the first semifinal heat of the Men's 200m Individual Medleyon Day 5 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on August 1, 2012 in London, England.
Former Florida Gator Ryan Lochte slid past Michael Phelps Wednesday in the 200m individual medley semi-final. Phelps took second place.
Both will compete Thursday for a medal in the finals. It will be streamed live here.
Lochte may be Phelps' biggest obstacle to clinch gold in the 200 meter individual medley.
Lochte, who holds the world record in the 200m IM but lost to Phelps in the Olympic trials. Phelps and Lochte are teammates, but also fierce rivals, and the 200m IM is the last time they’ll compete against each other. Phelps plans to retire after London.
Phelps and Lochte were assigned to the same heat in the 200m IM semifinals, so the Wednesday race could be a preview of the final.
Phelps has just four days remaining in his career, but he still has a shot at one last Olympic record: becoming the first swimmer to win the same individual event in three consecutive games.
Phelps, who became the most decorated Olympian in history on Tuesday with his 19th career medal, drew closer to the three-in-a-row mark early Wednesday, when he qualified in the 200m individual medley.
The 200m IM semifinal is the seventh of eight Wednesday afternoon races at the Aquatic Centre, a lineup that also includes the final in the men’s 200m breaststroke. Phelps will likely be watching that one, because the field includes Kosuke Kitajima, who has won gold in the event at the last two Olympics. If Kitajima wins, he, and not Phelps, will become the first swimmer to win an individual event three straight times.
If neither Phelps nor Kitajima succeed, Phelps will have one more chance at the record on Friday, when he competes in the 100m butterfly.
The Wednesday schedule also included the final in the women's 4x200m freestyle relay, an event the Americans should win, given that the team is expected to include Missy Franklin (who has already won a gold and bronze in London), Allison Schmitt (who has one gold) and Dana Vollmer (one gold).
Other finals on Wednesday were the women’s 200m butterfly and the men’s 100m freestyle.
Lochte, who has won two gold medals and one silver so far in London, also swam in the semifinals of the men’s 200m backstroke on Wednesday, along with teammate Tyler Clary.
Franklin also competed in the semifinals of the women's 100m freestyle.
And Rebecca Soni, who won silver in the women’s 100m breaststroke, swam in the semis of the women’s 200m breaststroke. She is the defending Olympic champion in that event.