OMAHA — Ryan Lochte can clinch a spot on his fourth Olympic team on Sunday night.
Lochte, an 11-time Olympic medalist, qualified second fastest into the Olympic Trials 400m individual medley final from the top morning heats on the first day of competition.
“My first race is always the worst one,” Lochte said. “I didn’t really press anything to full potential. I think there’s a little juice left. There has to be.”
The top two finishers in the eight-man final on Sunday (8 p.m. ET, NBC and NBC Sports app) will make the U.S. Olympic team.
Lochte is a favorite along with Chase Kalisz, who earned silver and bronze 400m IM medals at the last two world championships. Kalisz beat Lochte by .12 in their preliminary heat.
Other meet headliners Michael Phelps, Missy Franklin and Katie Ledecky are not in any of Sunday’s events and will make their Trials debuts in the next two days.
Lochte, 31, won the 400m IM at the London Olympics, his only individual gold medal from those Games. He had not raced the grueling event at a major international or national meet since.
Also in Sunday’s prelim session, 2012 Olympians Connor Jaeger and Conor Dwyer qualified second- and fourth-fastest into Sunday night’s men’s 400m freestyle final. They were bettered in prelims by Zane Grothe, who is trying to make his first Olympic team.
In the women’s 400m individual medley, Olympic silver medalist Elizabeth Beisel and world silver medalist Maya DiRado qualified second and fourth into Sunday night’s final. Sarah Henry, eyeing her first Olympics, was fastest in prelims.
Favorites Dana Vollmer and Kelsi Worrell advanced to the women’s 100m butterfly semifinals. Also advancing was favorite Kevin Cordes into the men’s 100m breaststroke semifinals.
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Sunday Night Schedule
Men’s 400m IM final
Women’s 100m butterfly semifinals
Men’s 400m freestyle final
Women’s 400m IM final
Men’s 100m breaststroke semifinals