OMAHA – Ryan Lochte said it Sunday, and he repeated himself Monday night. Even if he had a broken limb, the 11-time Olympic medalist insisted, he would still race at the Olympic trials.
Lochte started the trials at CenturyLink Center by pulling a groin muscle in his first race. He soldiered on Monday, finishing fifth in the semifinals of the men’s 200-meter freestyle to qualify for Tuesday’s finals. After placing third in Sunday’s 400 individual medley — and failing to earn an Olympic berth in an event he won at the 2012 Games — Lochte swam in just as much pain in his second set of races.
He finished his semifinal heat in 1 minute, 47.58 seconds, then limped down the stairs toward the warmdown pool. Lochte, 31, said he never has raced in this much pain, but he has no plans to sit out any events.
“[Tuesday] is going to definitely be rough,” Lochte said. “It’s constant pain. It’s not going away. But what can you do?
“This is definitely new. I love getting on those blocks and racing, so I could have a broken arm, and I’m still going to try. Hopefully tomorrow will be better.”
Lochte also plans to swim the 100 freestyle, 200 backstroke, 200 IM and 100 butterfly. He planned to get a cortisone shot before Monday’s competition but opted for massage and stretching. He said he still could get a cortisone shot later if the pain worsens.
Katie Ledecky came close to breaking her own world record in the women’s 400 freestyle. She was on pace to snap the mark through much of the race before slowing a bit at the end, finishing in 3:58.98. Her record, set in 2014, is 3:58.37.
Ledecky still was perfectly happy with the race. Her time is the fastest in the world this year and earned her a second Olympic berth.
“I think the last 50 [meters], I just kept telling myself, ‘Rio! Rio! Rio! Just come on!’ ” she said. “I didn’t really care what the time was.”
• The top swimmers are staying at the Hilton hotel directly across the street from CenturyLink Center. As convenient as it is, Michael Phelps has found one drawback: the view. “I have to leave my blinds closed, because if I don’t, I look directly at my face on the side of the wall,” he said, referring to the giant photo of himself plastered across the front of the arena. “So I don’t get any sunlight. If I do, then I’m staring at my face all day.”
• Other Minnesota-connected swimmers to finish in the top 25 on Monday were Lindsey Horejsi (Albert Lea/Gophers), 19th in the women’s 100 breaststroke, and former Gopher Kiera Janzen (White Bear Lake), 21st in the women’s 400 free.