Phelps set the tone right from the start Thursday to become the first male swimmer to win the same individual event at three straight Olympics, capturing the 200-meter individual medley for his 20th career medal — and 16th gold. He touched in 1 minute, 54.27 seconds, just off his winning time in Beijing but still good enough for gold.
So a farewell games that started as a bit of a disappointment for Phelps is definitely looking up.
He’s now won two golds and two silvers in five races — not up to his China standards, but a fitting capper to a brilliant career that still has two more events to go.
In fact, as soon as Phelps finished off Lochte, he hopped out of the pool and headed to the nearby diving well to warm down, knowing he still had a semifinal of the 100 butterfly before the night was done.
Lochte had gone through the same routine just a few minutes earlier, trying to pull off an impressive double 31 minutes apart.
He came up short in both races, fading to bronze in the 200 backstroke behind fellow American Tyler Clary, then touching after Phelps in the medley.
Phelps’ reaction wasn’t a water-pounding celebration, just a dazed smile and a definite look of relief. He seemed to be soaking it all in, relishing a gold of his own in London with his previous victory coming in the 4×200 freestyle relay.
Lochte shook hands with his rival before crawling out of the pool for the last time at these games.