Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte reach final

Updated: July 25, 2011, 12:48 PM ET
Associated Press

SHANGHAI -- Michael Phelps is going after Paul Biedermann, and this time he's got help.

Having been handed "a pretty good beatdown" by the German in the 200-meter freestyle two years ago in Rome, Phelps gets a long-awaited chance at revenge in the world championships.

Biedermann trounced Phelps and took away his world record in Rome, where everyone was wearing the high-tech bodysuits that are now banned.

This time, it should be a fair fight.

Phelps and Biedermann won't be going one-on-one, though. They'll be joined by what Phelps described as "a studly field" in Tuesday night's final at the Oriental Sports Center.

[+] EnlargeRyan Lochte
Ezra Shaw/Getty ImagesAmerican Ryan Lochte was among the top qualifiers for the 200-meter freestyle at the swimming world championships.

Yannick Agnel of France was the fastest qualifier in the semifinals, with Biedermann second, American Ryan Lochte third, Park Tae-hwan of South Korea fourth and Phelps fifth.

"It's going to be down to the last 50 (meters)," Phelps said. "There are some guys that have front-half speed and some guys that close extremely well. You can probably guarantee that it's going to be a tight group."

Lochte didn't swim the 200 free in Rome, but he figures to be a major presence this time.

"It's going to be definitely a dogfight," he said, noting that he and Phelps will swim next to each other.

"I'm going to kind of move over to the lane line and draft off him. Hopefully we can put something together and pull out a 1-2 race."

Biedermann predicted the final will be "big pressure."

The Americans earned their first gold medal on Monday, with Dana Vollmer winning the 100 butterfly in 56.87 seconds.

No world records have been set in the first two days of the meet, with everyone wearing textile suits.

In the 100 breaststroke semifinals, defending champion Rebecca Soni of the United States coasted through the semifinals in 1:04.91 -- 1.75 seconds ahead of Aussie rival Leisel Jones.

American Amanda Beard finished 15th and didn't advance.

In Tuesday's final, Soni has a strong chance to become the first swimmer to break a long-course world record since the return to textile suits 1½ years ago.

"I don't worry about that, it just puts too much pressure," she said. "If I do, that's great. If not, it's OK. I'm just going to have fun with it."

Olympic champion Natalie Coughlin of the United States advanced to Tuesday's 100 backstroke final with the fastest time of 59.38.


Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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