March 29, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- This was one strange night at the Indianapolis Grand Prix.

Ryan Lochte won two consolation heats, Michael Phelps drew two sharp rebukes from his longtime coach and even a torn pair of swimming trunks couldn't prevent Nathan Adrian from holding off the hard-charging Phelps in the 100-meter freestyle Thursday.

It was no typical swimming session at the IUPUI Natatorium.

"That's never happened, not even in practice," an embarrassed Adrian said after the win, explaining he heard the snap of the trunks as he was pushing off the starting block.

"It's happened when I walked up to the block before, but not at the start," he added. "I'm comfortable with the butt splitting, but anywhere else and I may have stopped and asked for a towel a little bit sooner."

Adrian won in 48.62 seconds, barely edging Phelps (48.74), who didn't realize what had happened until he saw towels getting thrown in the pool after he finished.

But the loss wasn't what irritated coach Bob Bowman - it was Phelps' overall performance.

He qualified seventh in the 100 free, something Bowman attributed to a lack of mental preparation. And even though Phelps rebounded from the second-place finish to win the 100 butterfly in 52.23, Bowman was still concerned about the way Phelps glided into the wall.

"I can't stand those finishes like that. He's got to start making that important," Bowman said. "We're at a point now where the details are important and you can't just keep blowing them off `til later. It is later."

Phelps, the 14-time Olympic gold medalist, wasn't pleased, either.

Though he won the race, Phelps acknowledged he swam poorly Thursday as he prepares for Friday's dreaded 400 individual medley, an event he had sworn off previously.

"It was a slow first 50, a terrible turn and a terrible finish," he said about the 100 fly. "I wanted to be under 52, but those three things are a lot."

Most fans came to the IUPUI Natatorium hoping to see the double head-to-head duel between the world's two top all-around swimmers.

But Lochte's poor qualifying times kept him out of the finals in both the 100 free and the 100 butterfly, and Phelps' subpar showing in the 100 free almost relegated him to the consolation bracket, too.

The next opportunity for a prime-time meeting will come in Saturday's 200 IM.

Clearly, Lochte wasn't swimming his best events or producing his best times in a dismal morning session. He qualified 13th in the 100 free (50.51 seconds) and 12th in the 100 fly (54.41). By the finals, Lochte was looking a lot more like the man who won five world championships and beat Phelps twice in head-to-head meetings in 2011.

Lochte won the 100 free consolation heat in 49.46 - a season best and a time that would have put him fifth in the championship heat. He was even better in the fly, posting a career-best 52.32. Had he made the finals and the time stood, Phelps and Lochte would have finished 1-2, separated by.09 seconds.

"Tonight it was really good," Lochte said in a statement read by a USA Swimming official. "It's where I want to be at this point of the season."

Lochte did not take questions.

Even the comeback stories hit snags.

Olympic gold medalist Amanda Beard finished fourth in the 200 breaststroke final, nearly four seconds behind Micah Lawrence's winning time of 2 minutes, 24.85 seconds. Brendan Hansen and Ed Moses, two former Olympians, finished fourth and seventh, respectively, in the men's 200 breaststroke - well behind winner Clark Burckle (2:10.56).

Reigning 100 butterfly world champion Dana Vollmer snapped the meet record in 57.73. She also won the 100 free in 54.21, beating Missy Franklin by .41.

In other events, Allison Schmitt edged Katie Hoff by .06 seconds in the women's 400 free, and Scott Clary pulled away from Michael Klueh in the men's 400 free.

"It was really good to see Ryan and Michael going fast, too, because we'll need them in London this summer," Adrian said.

If, that is, Phelps and Lochte start rounding into their more typical form.

"That was a terrible finish, it was another full stroke. He knows better than that, and he can do better than that," Bowman said of Phelps. "We'll know a whole lot more tomorrow."

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