Michael Phelps edged rival Ryan Lochte in a 200m individual medley preliminary heat to earn a spot in the top final at the Pan Pacific Championships on Sunday.
Phelps, swimming next to Lochte, won the heat in 1 minute, 58.95 seconds in Gold Coast, Australia. Lochte was second in 1:59.09.
Only two swimmers per nation can make the top final in a Pan Pacs event. Another American, Tyler Clary, swam even faster than Phelps in an earlier heat to make the final. Lochte is relegated to the B final. It’s the last individual event at the meet for all of them.
“This morning was a little rough,” Lochte said. “The whole race didn’t feel good.”
Phelps already has two gold medals and one silver at the meet, his first international competition since the London Olympics. He won the 100m butterfly and finished fourth in the 100m freestyle, making the 2015 World Championships team in both events.
Phelps and Lochte were both part of the 4x200m free relay team that won gold and the 4x100m free relay team that took silver.
Lochte also won silver in the 100m fly behind Phelps.
NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra will air Pan Pacs coverage on Sunday from 1-2 p.m. ET.
In other preliminary heats, Australian Cate Campbell broke the Pan Pacs record in the 50m free in 24.35. Campbell already won the 100m free this week. Americans Simone Manuel and Ivy Martin will join her in the top final.
Americans Anthony Ervin and Nathan Adrian were fastest in the men’s 50m free prelims.
Americans Maya DiRado and Olympic bronze medalist Caitlin Leverenz were the top qualifiers into the women’s 200m IM final.
The U.S.’ Nic Fink and Japan’s Rie Kaneto led the men’s and women’s 200m breaststroke qualifiers, respectively.