- Wayne Drehs, ESPN Senior Writer
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LONDON -- Michael Phelps knew the drill all too well. Two nights earlier, he had stood in the same spot, in the same interview area, and answered questions about what went wrong, why he failed and whether or not his confidence was shaken.
Phelps had finished fourth in his much-anticipated showdown with Ryan Lochte in the 400-meter individual medley, failing to win gold in his first Olympic final in eight years.
On Monday night, it was Lochte who had seemingly disappointed, finishing fourth in the men's 200 freestyle final, an event he had won a year earlier at the world championships.
So what went wrong? With a deep field featuring five of the fastest times in 2012, Lochte said he miscalculated and took the swim out too fast.
"I'm a back-half swimmer, but I knew if I wanted to be in the race, I'd have to go out fast," he said. "But I guess I did take it out a little too fast. I'll live and learn, and hopefully next time that mistake won't happen. At this level, you have to put everything into it. You can't hold back. I put everything into it and I guess it wasn't there."
If you were looking for disappointment or frustration, panic or worry, you weren't going to find it, Lochte said. Phelps, of course, understood. On the bus ride over to the pool Monday, he told a USA Swimming staffer he thought it would take a high 1-minute, 43-second time to win the event. Lochte's fastest time in the 200 free was the 1:44.44 he swam to win gold at last year's worlds in Shanghai. For Lochte to get a 1:43 on Monday night, Phelps said he suggested his teammate rely on one of his strengths, his underwater abilities.
Phelps defeated Lochte at the U.S. trials in Omaha, Neb., by 0.05 but announced the day after trials he wouldn't swim the event in London.
"It's a tough race," Phelps said. "I thought it was going to be 43 high, but that was an incredible swim. A race like that is tough to come off of, but Ryan is a great racer. He's a champion. He's going to be able to build off that, and put a lot of energy and focus into the races he has left."
Lochte seemed characteristically unfazed. A night after getting caught by France's Yannick Agnel in the final leg of the 4x100 freestyle relay, Lochte lost to Agnel again in the 200 free. But as he walked through the media interview area, Lochte was more focused on watching Missy Franklin's swim in the 100 backstroke final than he was panicking about what he needed to fix.
"Whatever happened last night, happened last night. You have to get over it and move on," he said. "Whatever happened tonight ... I have a couple of more races left. Just have to forget about it and move on."
As for Phelps, he had an interesting moment of his own Monday, admitting he tried to peek up at the scoreboard halfway through his 200 fly semifinal heat to see his split.
"That's not really like me," he said. "But I knew we were all together."
Phelps said his goal was to swim a "controlled race." He won his heat with a time of 1:54.53 and will be seeded fourth for Tuesday night's final. American teammate Tyler Clary's time of 1:54.93 has him seeded fifth.
"I'm fine with that," Phelps said. "Some of these guys close really well. I just wanted to set myself up [to not be] in Lane 8, move myself to the middle."
Lochte's next swim will come Tuesday in the men's 4x200-meter relay. His next individual swim comes Wednesday, when he will again square off against Phelps in the preliminary and possibly semifinal heats of the 200 individual medley. The final is Thursday night.