American Ryan Lochte lived up to the hype, crushing countryman Michael Phelps and the rest of the 400-Meter Individual Medley field to win his first gold medal of the 2012 London Olympics.
It was an absolutely dominant performance from Lochte, who finished with a time of 4:05.18. He was less than two seconds off the world-record pace, and he beat second-place finisher Thiago Pereira by more than three seconds.
Lochte was in control from start to finish, but he really separated himself during the breaststroke portion of the medley. With his long and powerful strides, he exploded away from the pack, securing the gold medal before the race was even half-way over.
While Lochte cruised to the easy victory, Phelps delivered a highly disappointing performance.
Despite setting the world-record in this event four years ago, Phelps failed to medal on Saturday. He finished in fourth place with a time of 4:09.28, more than four seconds behind his compatriot and rival. He lost out on the bronze medal—which was won by Kosuke Hagino of Japan—by just over three-tenths of a second.
Although it was an unimpressive display from Phelps, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise. He barely even qualified for Saturday's finals after finishing eighth in the prelims. He secured the final spot by just seven-hundredths of a second, and even though he improved his time on the big stage, he wasn't even close to surpassing Lochte.
The supposed duel between Lochte and Phelps has been the most-hyped storyline of the 2012 Olympics, but unless Phelps dramatically improves in the coming days, Lochte will become the new swimming icon in America.