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“All the French guys have been staring me down,” Lezak joked. “It’s going to be a really tight race.”

Phelps will renew more rivalries in the 200 free final on Tuesday. Awaiting him are teammate Ryan Lochte and Paul Biedermann of Germany, who trounced Phelps with a world-record time in a stunning upset in Rome. Of course, that was before FINA banned the high-tech suits that led to 43 records at those worlds.

“I hate to lose,” Phelps reminded everyone. “He’s someone who handed me a pretty good beatdown in 2009. It’s going to be fun.”

Lochte and Phelps will duel in the 200 IM, where Lochte is the defending world champion whose results last year made him the top American swimmer.

“What Michael did in 2008 is definitely going to go down in history, but that was three years ago,” Lochte said. “Anything can happen. I know I’m definitely a better swimmer than in ‘08. We’re going to put on a show.”

Phelps‘ seven-event program in Shanghai is one less than he swam at the Beijing Olympics, where he burnished his legend as the greatest swimmer in history by winning eight gold medals.

A few months ago, Phelps pulled out all of his 14 Olympic golds from a “secret hiding spot” to look at them for what he said was just the second time.

“I don’t really look at the past because I know there’s so much I can do in the future,” he said.

Phelps is already looking beyond the London Olympics, to a chlorine-free future that he recently mulled over with former swimmer Rowdy Gaines.

“It’s going to be really weird to hang up the suit,” he said. “All the memories, that was kind of hard to think about it. I got a year left. It’s going to be a good year. I’ll have fun.”