- Associated Press - Saturday, March 31, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS — Michael Phelps finished at Indianapolis just the way he wanted — with another resounding victory.

On an emotional night for the 26-year-old swimmer and his family, Phelps beat his biggest rival by more than three seconds and swam the best 200 IM in the world this year, beating the previous best time by nearly two seconds. He won the race in a startling 1 minute, 56.32 seconds.

This was no ordinary race for Phelps, who made his first Olympic team in 2000 at Indy and broke two world records at the IUPUI Natatorium.

“Being able to come back and relive the memories and moments was really special,” Phelps said after presumably competing for the final time in this venue. “I’m sure my mom has cried a few times already tonight and we had a DP (Debbie Phelps) moment this week.”

His sister, Hilary, posted Twitter messages indicating there were tears coming from the family’s familiar cheering section.

For the Phelps family, Indy has been a place where they have celebrated great victories and endured unimaginable losses. So Saturday night’s finale was one everybody wanted to savor.

Phelps‘ mother and sister stood for the final 100 meters of the race, and when it ended, they hugged, clapped and shook hands with those around them. A few fans not far from the Phelps family shouted “We love you Michael” as a somber-looking Debbie Phelps covered her mouth. Phelps‘ sister, Hilary, acknowledged on Twitter that there were tears in the stands.

It was a dramatic climax to a three-day meet that really didn’t match the hype.

Lochte, who won five gold medals at the 2011 world championships and beat Phelps in both of last year’s head-to-head meetings, couldn’t keep up with his rival.

The New York native and Florida resident was relegated to two consolation heats Thursday and never seriously challenged the speedy Phelps on Saturday, either. Lochte finished the race in 1:59.37 and didn’t win a single event. Darian Townsend finished second in the 200 IM in 1:59.28.

Then again, Lochte has not been traditionally strong during the long in-season training regimen, and this week’s schedule certainly didn’t help.

On Saturday, he had to square off with a determined Phelps less than 30 minutes after sharing third place with Denmark’s Mathias Gydesen in the 100 backstroke.

“I think if you ask any backstroker, they’ll basically tell you it’s a leg event and it hurts,” Lochte said. “But I knew I had to do that double because if I want to do that at the Olympics, I have to learn how do that back-to-back.”

Phelps, meanwhile, kept the focus simple.

After winning the 100 butterfly Thursday and the 400 IM on Friday, the most decorated American Olympian withdrew from the 200 butterfly Saturday morning so he could finish with a flourish.

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