Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte lead 200m IM pack into semifinals

All of the U.S. swimmers who raced in qualifying heats Wednesday afternoon advanced to their respective evening semifinals, but Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte highlighted the 200m individual medley. Lochte’s one minute, 57.38 seconds was the fastest time among the qualifying heats.

Lochte, fresh off winning a gold medal with the 4x200m freestyle relay on Tuesday night, said he got about four hours of sleep.

Phelps, who won two golds Tuesday in the 200m butterfly and the same relay, said he got about five hours of rest the night before. He raced to 1:58.41, the overall third-fastest time of the qualifying heats.

To start off the session, Simone Manuel got out to an early lead in her 100m freestyle heat to clock 53.32. She advances in second place overall, after Australian Cate Campbell clocked an Olympic record 52.78.

Cate’s sister Bronte Campbell advanced too, tied for fifth place. Both Campbells are medal favorites after landing on the podium at last summer’s world championships. 2012 Olympic champ Ranomi Kromowidjojo also made the final, in fourth place.

Abbey Weitzeil, already a silver medalist at these Rio Games in the 4x100m freestyle relay, advanced to the semifinals in seventh place with her time of 53.54.

Later, Ryan Murphy, who took gold in the 100m backstroke earlier this week, and Jacob Pebley, making his Olympic debut, advanced from the qualifying heats into the semifinals of the 200m backstroke.

Both men attend the University of California, Berkeley, and are part of a small group of U.S. swimmers calling themselves the “Cal Five.”

2015 World Champion Mitch Larkin of Australia advanced to the semifinal in third place overall.

Molly Hannis won her heat over Russia’s Yulia Efimova and advanced to the 16-woman semifinals in 12th place. Lilly King, who battled Efimova at the 100m distance and won gold, advanced in 15th.

Efimova, the 200m breaststroke bronze medalist from the 2012 Games, advanced eighth.

To close the session, the 4x200m freestyle relay squad of Allison Schmitt, Missy Franklin, Melanie Margalis and Cierra Runge qualified for Wednesday’s final with a time of 7:47.77. The lineup for the nighttime relay won’t be announced until closer to the session’s start, but all who participate in the morning preliminary are eligible for a medal, if the nighttime squad wins one.