IRVINE, Calif. -- Ryan Lochte finally fended off Michael Phelps in the individual medley.
Lochte beat his rival for the first time in a long-course medley at a major meet, winning the 200-meter IM at the U.S. national championships on Friday night.
Lochte touched in 1 minute, 54.84 seconds, with Phelps second in 1:55.94. Their times were the two fastest in the world this year, while Lochte's time was fifth-quickest ever.
"Every time I go on the blocks I think I can win," Lochte said.
That mindset hasn't helped him in the individual medleys against Phelps, who has dominated at 200 and 400 meters in the Olympics, worlds and Pan Pacific championships.
Phelps is the two-time defending Olympic champion and owned the world record from June 2003 until last year, when Lochte took it away at the world championships in Rome.
They are the two fastest swimmers ever in the 200 IM. Lochte has shared the podium with Phelps, but he had never made the top spot.
That changed when Phelps took a break from the events after winning a record eight gold medals at the Beijing Games. Lochte finally broke through, winning both distances in Rome.
It was Phelps' first loss this week after winning the 100 and 200 butterflys and the 200 freestyle. Lochte earlier won the 400 IM, which Phelps skipped. They will resume their rivalry, along with Aaron Peirsol, in the 200 backstroke on Saturday.
Tyler Clary, silver medalist at worlds, was third.
Lochte came into this week with a left groin injury that had prevented him from practicing breaststroke for nearly a month. This meet was a major test of his left knee, which was surgically repaired last fall after he tore the meniscus while break dancing.
"I've been babying it," he said of his groin. "I think it's just rested."
Reminded of Lochte's injuries, Phelps said laughingly, "He always says that."
Phelps led through the first 100 meters of butterfly and backstroke, but Lochte pulled even on the breaststroke leg and took the lead at the final turn. He put distance between himself and Phelps over the last 25 meters of freestyle.
"I hurt, holy crap," a breathless Phelps said. "I said to Ryan, 'Dude, with about 20 meters left you passed me like I was standing still.' It all goes back to not being in shape. I'm not there yet. I feel like my body shut down."
Lochte, who had finished second in the 100 free about 40 minutes earlier, knew the race would be decided at the final turn.
"If he's right with you and he pushes off that wall, he'll pop up a body length ahead and it's over," he said. "That's where he is so dominant."
Instead, Phelps was behind with 50 meters to go.
"There's a lot of work to be done," he said. "Losses always motivate me."
Nathan Adrian won the 100 free with the world's second-fastest time.
Adrian touched in 48.41 seconds against a strong field of fellow Olympians. He completed a sweep of the sprints, having won the 50 free a night earlier. Adrian's time trails only Alain Bernard of France, who has swum 48.32.
"There are definitely some things I can clean up to go faster in that race, but I'm pretty happy with that time," Adrian said. "The most important thing is to swim your own race, and I was able to do that."
Lochte took second in 48.83. His final lap of 25.37 was two one-hundredths faster than Adrian, who was quickest off the blocks and into the first turn.
They had already earned spots on the U.S. team for both the upcoming Pan Pacific championships and next year's world championships in Shanghai.
Jason Lezak, swimming in front of his hometown fans at age 34, tied with Garrett Weber-Gale for third in 48.96.
Olympian Cullen Jones failed to make the championship final, but he won the consolation race in 49.51.
Olympian Kathleen Hersey won the 200 butterfly in 2:07.00, second-quickest in the world behind Jiao Liuyang of China. Teresa Crippen was second in 2:07.89.
Olympian Elizabeth Beisel won the 200 backstroke in 2:08.50, ahead of Melissa Franklin.
USA Swimming said Josh Schneider's protest over the 50 free wouldn't be decided until Sunday. Schneider and Jones tied for second behind Adrian on Thursday night, but places two through eight were not declared official.
Schneider was entered in the morning heats of the 100 butterfly and 50 free. He failed to show up or scratch out of the fly, which according to the rules meant he was ineligible to swim the rest of the day. However, he swam the 50 under protest.