Ryan Lochte overcomes short night to qualify for 200 freestyle semifinals

Charles Robinson
NFL columnist

LONDON – You're up again, Ryan Lochte.

Only a few hours after dominating the 400 IM – and lying awake until 2 a.m. – Lochte qualified for the semifinals of the 200-meter freestyle with the second fastest time of the day at 1:46.45. He'll attempt to lock his place in the finals Sunday night, after just getting out-touched in the morning by China's Yang Sun, who closed the gap on Lochte in the final meters and finished at 1:46.24.

"I just wanted to get a lane for tonight," Lochte said. "I think the 400 IM kind of took a lot out of me last night. But it's a new day and a new race. I did what I had to do this morning. Hopefully I'll be a lot faster tonight."

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Lochte also said there has been no decision yet about whether he will be placed on the finals roster of the 4x100 relay Sunday evening. That appears doubtful, but U.S. coaches used the lineup of Jimmy Feigen, Matt Grevers, Ricky Berens and Jason Lezak to qualify this morning. Grevers might be the only one from that group to make the final four after a strong morning swim. The U.S. team will be seeded second behind Australia in the final, after being edged 3:12.29 to 3:12.59.

"There's been talk about [putting me in the 4x100], but at the end of the day it's the coach's decision," Lochte said. "They're going to put the best four guys they think are ready. I've just got to see if they put me on it or not."

In other news from the morning preliminaries …

• In the women's 100-meter breaststroke, 15-year-old Lithuanian Ruta Meilutyte roared out of nowhere to post the fastest time of the morning and the fastest time in the world this year at 1:05.56 seconds. After looking at the scoreboard she promptly burst into tears.

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"I didn't expect it at all," Meilutyte said. "I am in shock. I am speechless."

It was a breathtaking drop of nearly two seconds from her entry time, and it drew the attention of her elder competitors.

"I said, 'Oh, shoot, now we actually have to push it this morning,' " said American Rebecca Soni, the gold-medal favorite and second-fastest qualifier at 1:05.75. "It rubbed off on the rest of us, too. It inspired me to race harder."

The question now is whether Meilutyte, who trains in Britain, can back up that breakout swim Sunday night in the semifinals and qualify well for the Monday final.

Soni, meanwhile, looked like her customary, efficient self.

"It felt good to finally get a swim in," Soni said. "Last night was so exciting, I was anxious to get my turn."

Fellow American Breeja Larson also qualified well, winning her heat easily.

• Among the Americans to qualify for Sunday night's races: Missy Franklin and Rachel Bootsma in the semifinals of the 100-meter backstroke; Lochte and Berens in the 200-meter freestyle semifinals; Soni and Breeja Larson in the 100-meter breaststroke; Grevers and Nick Thoman in the 100-meter backstroke; and Allison Schmitt in the 400-meter freestyle.

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