By: Mark Maloney
SEC Digital Network
LONDON — Ryan Lochte is reacting as graciously in defeat as in victory.
A fourth-place finish Monday in the 200-meter freestyle is not what the former Florida star had hoped for at the Summer Olympic Games. Not after minting a gold medal Saturday in the 400 individual medley, and not after Sunday’s 400 freestyle relay, when he lost the lead on the anchor leg and came away with silver.
Yet, fourth is what he got before a packed house in London’s Aquatics Centre.
"This is one of the deepest fields," Lochte said. "I mean, from first to eighth is like a second, so it’s definitely really hard."
No complaints. No excuses.
Yannick Agnel, a 20-year-old Frenchman, won in 1:43.14. South Korea’s Taehwan Park and Yang Sun tied for silver in 1:44.93. Lochte touched the pad in 1:45.04. Sunday, Lochte made it through heats and semifinals of the 200 by going 1:46.45 in the morning and 1:46.31 that night, ranking second and fifth, respectively.
Agnel, who won gold Sunday in the 400 free relay, gave France its third swimming gold in the London Games. France had never won more than one in any Olympics.
In fact, French men won a total of two golds from 1904 through 2008. Now, Agnel has two himself. Park earned silver for a second straight Olympics, having finished behind Michael Phelps at Beijing. Sun, who earlier won the 400 freestyle, is the first Chinese swimmer to medal twice in an Olympics.
Agnel led at every turn.
Lochte hung tough, ranking third at 50 and 100 meters, moving up to second at 150.
"I knew if I wanted to be in the race I’d have to go out," he said. "So I guess I’ll live and learn and, hopefully, next time I won’t make that same mistake again."
Park, third at 150 meters, and Sun, coming from fourth, overtook Lochte.
"That last lap hurt," Lochte said. "Especially when you’re racing at this kind of level, you just have to put everything into it. You can’t really hold it back. So, I put everything into it and I guess it wasn’t there."
Lochte, 27, still has the 200-meter backstroke and individual medley, as well as the 800 freestyle relay to go here.
Failing to hold the relay a night earlier had no effect, he said. "Whatever happened last night happened last night. I had to get over it and move on. And whatever happened tonight, I know that I have a couple more races left so I’ve just got to forget about it and move on."
Meanwhile, Georgia senior Allison Schmitt advanced through two rounds of the women’s 200 freestyle to reach Tuesday’s finals. Schmitt, who already has a silver medal (400 freestyle) and bronze (400 free relay) here, ranked second to Australia’s Bronte Barratt in both rounds.
Barratt placed seventh at the 2008 Olympics.
Competing in the same morning heat, Schmitt clocked 1:56.15, behind Barratt’s 1:56.08. Also matched in the evening semifinal, Barratt touched in 1:56.08 to Schmitt’s 1:56.15. Then came Camille Muffat of France (1:56.18).
World record-holder and defending Olympic champion Federica Pellegrini of Italy won the second heat (1:56.67). Slovenia’s Sara Isakovic, the 2008 silver-medalist, was eliminated when she placed seventh in Schmitt’s heat and 14th of 16 overall. Another Georgia Bulldog, incoming freshman Yousef Alaskari of Kuwait, placed 35th among 36 swimmers in the men’s 200 butterfly heats with a time of 2:05.41.