Michael Phelps has said he is retiring after the London Olympics, making Thursday's 200 IM his last race against Ryan Lochte. It was a good night for the Americans all around.
In the end, the story SO HUGE IT HAD JOURNALISTS SCRAMBLING FOR THE CAPSLOCK BUTTON didn't end up dominating these Games. With two days remaining in the Olympic swimming program, and Lochte having swum his last race here, the Yannick Agnels and Chad le Closes and Allison Schmitts of the world have been, if anything, more engrossing than the two men who seemingly bestrode the Aquatics Centre.
But they sure did go out with a bang.
For once, everything went according to script, and Messrs. Phelps and Lochte actually had a race, and it was close, and one of them won. In the process, Phelps became the first male swimmer to win the same race in the Olympics three times in a row. (Because he didn't have enough records already.)
So after Thursday's 200-meter individual medley, the scores stand:
Thursday's race gave some sense of why we in the media were more excited than un-house-trained puppies before the Olympics began. There was Phelps, and there was Lochte beside him, and every stroke was a haymaker meant to knockout the other.
Lochte was being a beast, swimming in the 200 IM just 20 minutes after he swam in the 200-meter backstroke. And Phelps had his Beijing game going, even as he managed to keep his London face firmly in place, just so darn pleased about everything.
Apparently, he had his London face on before the swim, too, chatting up Lochte. "I said to him in the meet room, 'This is our last 200 of the meet and our last 200 together.' We were just joking around, laughing about it."