Updated: Monday, 11 August 2014 10:46 | By Agence France-Presse

Swimmer Lochte edges Phelps in encouraging 200m medley

Ryan Lochte edged Michael Phelps in the 200m individual medley at the US Swimming Championships on Sunday in a battle of the top two swimmers ever in the event.

Swimmer Lochte edges Phelps in encouraging 200m medley

Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte pictured after the Men's 100 Meter Butterfly Final in California, August 8, 2014 - by Harry How

World record-holder Lochte clocked the second-fastest time in the world this year of 1min 56.50sec to hold off Phelps, whose 18 Olympic gold medals include three 200 IM triumphs.

Only Japan's Kosuke Hagino, with a time of 1:55.38, has swum faster this year.

The three could meet in the Pan Pacific Championships in Gold Coast, Australia, in less than a fortnight, although it's not yet certain which events the Americans will opt for there.

Although the defeat means Phelps leaves the championships without a victory, the most decorated Olympian in history said his runner-up finish in 1:56.55 -- third-fastest in the world this year -- was an encouraging performance as he continues his comeback from a near two-year layoff.

Tyler Clary was third in 1:57.94.

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