OMAHA -- Ryan Lochte glided over the lane lines, slowly made his way to the water's edge, took one last look at the scoreboard above and then lifted himself out of the water. He was in pain. He hobbled over to a television interview, head down and tried to process the precarious position he's suddenly found himself in at U.S. Olympic Trials.
One day after pulling his groin in the breaststroke leg of the 400-meter individual medley, the 31-year-old Lochte finished fifth in the preliminary heats of the men's 200-meter freestyle Monday morning with a time of 1:47.77. After the swim, he said he and his doctors decided against a cortisone shot, meaning it's up to gut it out somehow still do whatever it takes to make his fourth Olympic team.
"I can't dwell on it," Lochte said. "It is what it is. It's a constant pain but I have to try and forget about it the best I can, try to listen to some music or something."
Lochte, the defending Olympic champion in the 400-meter IM, finished third in the finals of the event Monday night, failing to hold onto a lead he built for himself in the first 200 meters. He later said he suffered a similar groin injury a year ago and had to stay off his feet for "several days." One of Lochte's representatives said Monday the 31-year-old has had recurring groin issues.
Monday's 200 meter freestyle was a big test, as it would seem that the kick from a freestyle swim would potentially irritate that area less than a breaststroke kick. But Lochte said Monday was just as painful. When a reporter suggested his third turn in the 200 free looked like the "Lochte of old" he shoved aside such an idea.
"That might have looked like the Ryan Lochte turn but it didn't feel like it," he said. "I put everything I could into that turn and it didn't feel right. But I made it back for tonight. I have a shot."
The top eight finishers in Monday night's semifinals will qualify for the finals on Tuesday. Beyond that, Lochte still has the 100 freestyle, 200 backstroke, 200 individual medley and 100 butterfly on his schedule.
He said Monday morning if his groin continues to act up he likely will get a cortisone shot. For now, he's trying to treat the injury with stretching and massage.
"I feel it right now," Lochte said after the swim. "I'm in pain. But pain is temporary."