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Gator Nation Is At The 2012 Olympics, Day 5: Ryan Lochte Sets Up Second Duel With Michael Phelps, Biggest Day


Lochte vs. Phelps, Vol. 2

Ryan Lochte's first final of the 2012 Olympics was a resounding victory over a field that was nowhere near his level, and yet Michael Phelps finishing fourth took some of the shine away from it. His second final featured him fading and Phelps ripping through the pool, leaving Lochte looking like a goat.

Round Three is Thursday.

Lochte qualified easily for both the 200 meters backstroke, in which he is no worse than a co-favorite with Tyler Clary, the fastest qualifier, and the 200 meters individual medley on Wednesday. But it's the latter in which he'll face Phelps, and the latter in which he's looking to accomplish something only Phelps and a handful of other greats have.

The 200 IM is one of the toughest tests in sprint swimming, essentially four 50-meter sprints in each of the four major strokes (in order: butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, freestyle) in quick succession. And the men who have won the 400 IM, like Lochte did on Saturday, tend to win the 200 IM: Seven of the nine Olympics at which both events have been held have seen one man take both titles, and Phelps pulled doubles in 2004 and 2008.

Lochte, the current world record-holder in the event, who set that record in the post-supersuit era, has a chance to match that feat and take his place as the most balanced elite swimmer in the world at this Olympics. But he'll almost surely take the lead midway through on the backstroke, then have Phelps breathing down his neck at the end of the race on the freestyle, and Lochte's been hawked down from behind at this Olympics already.

Then again, Lochte beat Phelps and qualified first today, and while lost to Phelps on that first butterfly leg, he beat him in the other three, and by almost seven tenths of a second in the freestyle. So, really, who knows what happens in that race Thursday? And with Clary qualifying almost three-quarters of a second faster than Lochte in the 200 back, who knows what happens in that race?

It suffices to say that Lochte's biggest day of the 2012 Olympics is Thursday.

Rest of aquatic Gators struggle

Only Jemma Lowe had a chance to give Gator Nation another medal on Day 5, and, like Gemma Spofforth before her, Lowe couldn't quite get one in front of the home crowd in London. Lowe finished sixth in the 200 meters butterfly, well off the podium.

A host of other Gators failed to qualify for finals on the day: Omar Pinzon made a semifinal but not a final, but Marco Loughran, Sarra Lajnef, Hilda Luthersdottir, Bradley Ally, Marcin Cieslak, and Melani Costa-Schmid all failed to advance to semis.

Dana Vollmer, a Florida transfer who already had one gold medal and a world record in this Olympics, added another as part of the U.S.'s 4 x 200 meters freestyle relay team. Clark Burckle, another Florida transfer, failed to medal after making a final, placing sixth in the 200 meters breaststroke.

Stewart, Team GB still looking for a win

Great Britain's almost certainly out of medal contention. But Azania Stewart and "Team GB" are running out of chances to make history in women's basketball.

Great Britain fell on Wednesday to Russia in qualifying round play, 67-61, with Stewart contributing four points, two rebounds, two steals, and a block. The loss drops the Brits to 0-3 in Olympics play. Their best shot at a win, which would be their first ever in an Olympics, may come against similarly winless Brazil ... in the 54th and final game of the qualifying round at 10:15 p.m. local time on Sunday.

Raymond moves on, twice

Lisa Raymond's top-ranked women's doubles team moved on in straight sets on Wednesday. So did her third-ranked mixed doubles team. But weather forced the postponement of several other matches, which means it's not clear when Raymond (and her partners, Liezel Huber in women's doubles and Mike Bryan in mixed doubles) will take to the court again.

Gator Nation Medal Count, Day 4

Total Medals: 4 (Ryan Lochte: 2 gold, 1 silver; Elizabeth Beisel 1 silver)

Total Medals For Individual Gators: 5 (Ryan Lochte: 2 gold, 1 silver; Conor Dwyer: 1 gold; Elizabeth Beisel 1 silver)

Gold Medals: 2 (Lochte, men's 400 meters IM and men's 4 x 200 meters relay)

Silver Medals: 2 (Lochte, men's 4 x 100 meters relay; Beisel, women's 400 meters IM)

Bronze Medals: 0

Percentage of U.S. Gold Medals, Excluding Transfers: 22.2 percent (2 of 12)

Percentage of U.S. Gold Medals, Including Transfers: 33.3 percent (4 of 12)

Percentage of U.S. Medals, Excluding Transfers: 13.8 percent (4 of 29)

Percentage of U.S. Medals, Including Transfers: 20.7 percent (6 of 29)

For the purposes of our medal count, I'm counting 34 members of Olympic teams as Gators, by the same criteria as Only Gators. GatorZone counts Gators who transferred and finished their collegiate careers elsewhere. I'll calculate stats for both here.

If the University of Florida were its own country, it would currently be in 12th in the medal rankings, just ahead of Hungary, and tied for 15th with Hungary in the overall Olympic medal count. The former stat ranks teams with better medals first; the latter only includes total medals.

Gator Nation no longer leads Great Britain, but is still ahead of Brazil and Mexico. Slackers.

Lochte remains tied in the individual medal standings at the 2012 Olympics with France's Yannick Agnel, and both have two gold medals and one silver medal, but they are now tied for third, behind Team USA's Allison Schmitt and Australia's Alicia Coutts.