The 2012 Olympic swimming competition began with a bang for one popular US competitor as Ryan Lochte took the gold in the men's 400m IM. Beijing Games legend Michael Phelps, who was expected to contend for the top honor, struggled throughout the contest and finished a disappointing fourth.
Lochte, who posted the third fastest time of the qualification round, pulled ahead of the field quickly and stayed there, occasionally flirting with a new World Record. Although he didn't break Phelps' existing event mark, he finished the race more than three full seconds (with a time of 4:05.18) ahead of silver medalist Thiago Pereira of Brazil. Japan's Hagino Kosuke snagged the bronze, touching the wall .34 second ahead of Phelps.
So what happened to Phelps? It's hard to say, but lane placement may have affected his performance. After barely making the finals, he was assigned lane 8, while Lochte was placed in lane 3. It may have been difficult for him to pace himself without being close to the top qualifiers. Or it could have simply been an off-day for Phelps; everyone has them now and again. It's unfortunate, but not unheard of.
2012 Olympic swimming action continues throughout the week.