Ryan Lochte earns berth in Rio, but only in relay event so far

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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Ryan Lochte missed out on his second chance to make the U.S. Olympic team in an individual event, finishing fourth in the 200-meter freestyle Tuesday night.

There was some consolation for the ailing swimmer: Lochte at least assured himself a trip to Rio as a part of the 4×200 free relay.

Townley Haas, who just missed out on the team with a third-place finish in the 400 free, earned his first trip to the Olympics by rallying to win in 1 minute, 45.66 seconds. Conor Dywer was next in 1:45.67, giving him a second individual event at the Olympics. He also finished second in the 400 free.

Jack Conger was third in 1:45.77, while Lochte faded to 1:46.62. He has been battling a groin injury, already squandering a chance to defend his title in the 400 individual medley.

Lochte was second at the final turn Tuesday but couldn’t hold on.

“I’m just happy that I’m going to Rio,” Lochte said, sounding downright relieved. “You can never go in knowing that you’re going to make the team, just because the U.S. is one of the hardest countries to make the Olympic team.”

Another stalwart of the 2012 U.S. team failed to qualify for Rio. Matt Grevers, the defending Olympic gold medalist in the men’s 100 backstroke, finished third behind Ryan Murphy and David Plummer.

Murphy won in 52.26, edging Plummer’s time of 52.28. Grevers touched in 52.76.

“It wasn’t that tight. They beat me by a half-second,” Grevers said. “I think I’m a little stunned. I think after I let it sink in, I’ll be more distraught than I currently am.”

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Yet another Olympic gold medalist, Jessica Hardy, finished sixth in the 100 breaststroke to also miss out on the U.S. team. Lilly King and Katie Meili were 1-2 in the final, extending what has become a definite changing of the guard in Omaha.

Ten of the swimmers who claimed likely spots for Rio on Tuesday night will be first-time Olympians.

Over the first three days of the trials, that number could be as high as 17 – a drastic makeover for the world’s greatest swimming nation.

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