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London Olympics 2012: Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte Will Swim For Gold In 400 IM Final

The first gold medal is up for grabs for USA swimming stars Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte after both qualified for the 400 Individual Medley final on Saturday morning.

Phelps posted the slowest prelim time among the finalist at 4:13.33 and just nipped Laszlo Cseh of Hungary by .07 seconds to win his heat and advance. The slow pace qualified Phelps for the 400 IM final on Saturday evening but cost Cseh, the silver medalist in the event in 2008, a shot at another Olympic medal. Phelps will need to make waves from outside in lane eight in order to repeat his gold medal performance in the event in Beijing in 2008 where he posted a world record time of 4:03.84.

Phelps' U.S. rival Ryah Lochte posted the third best time at 4:12.35, finishing second to South African Chae le Clos in his heat, while also saving a little energy for later. Lochte will race the final from lane three, slated to line up next to Japan's 17-year-old Kosuke Hagino in lane four after the young swimmer surprisingly posted the top time in his prelim heat at 4:10.01.

The 400 IM is at 5:00 p.m. ET on Saturday and will be shown on NBC's Olympic coverage on tape delay during the 8:00 p.m. to Midnight ET broadcast.

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Photographs by spatulated, Triple Tri, and chrischappelear used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.