Rio Olympics: Phelps and Lochte set up 200m individual medley final showdown

Phelps will look to win the men's 200m individual medley for an incredible fourth successive Games while Lochte, so often the bridesmaid, finally tries to get one over on his fellow American.

Ryan Lochte, Phelps' longtime friend and rival, finished fifth.

"Any chance I can get up and race Michael, that's the best", gushed Lochte, second fastest in the semi-finals half a second behind Phelps.

Michael Phelps described his rivalry with Ryan Lochte as "special" as the U.S. teammates prepare to go head-to-head in another Olympic swimming final on Thursday.

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The race in Rio extended an Olympic rivalry that began back in 2004, at the Athens Summer Games - a period in which Phelps has won the gold in every Olympics, relegating Lochte and a host of other talented male swimmers to also-rans in this event. Phelps, 31, is bidding to become the first swimmer to win the same event at four consecutive Olympics, and to expand a career medal haul that has grown this week to 25, all but four of them gold.

Phelps, the most decorated Olympian in history with 21 gold medals, has won each of his three finals in Rio so far: the 200m butterfly, the 4x100m freestyle and the 4x200m freestyle. The most versatile female swimmer in the Rio Olympics is expected to dominate anew in an event that also features Mady Dirado of US and Hilary Caldwell of Canada. That's how it went four years ago in London, when Phelps won and Lochte finished second. Keep an eye on Japan's Kosuke Hagino, who also has a shot to make the podium.

"We'll hang out because swimming doesn't dictate our friendship", Lochte said. The favorite is expected to live up to her billing as she battles a field consists of defending Olympic champ Ranomi Kromowidjojo and his sister Bronte Campbell. Evgeny Rylov was the leading qualifier in 1 minute, 54.45 seconds. However, he will be tested by Australia's Mitch Larkin and USA duo of Jacob Pebley and Ryan Murphy for the gold.

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