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Lochte got Peirsol back despite a problem with his LZR Racer.
"My suit came undone after the first 50," Lochte said. "I was just trying to control my legs."
Lochte couldn't tame Phelps, however, which would appear to leave Crocker as the last man standing between Phelps and his destiny.
A thoughtful, 25-year-old from Maine, who loves to cruise in vintage cars and jam on his guitar, Crocker is now trying to go down in history as the man who stopped Phelps.
"You can start by not worrying about what everybody else thinks," he said. "Nobody knows what I've really gone through in the last eight years and what has gotten me to this point, besides myself and a few people that I know well. So it's my own personal deal at this point."
Peirsol won the 100 back in Beijing, but failed to match his backstroke double from Athens four years ago. He earned the silver in 1:54.33, while Russia's Arkady Vyatchanin claimed the bronze.
"That's the theme of the meet. You have to break a world record to win. I gave it my all and I had nothing left," Peirsol said. "I'm very proud of what I've done. Ryan swam well. He earned it."
Rebecca Soni gave the U.S. women's swim team a much-needed boost, setting a world record in the 200 breaststroke with an upset of Australia's Leisel Jones.
Soni had already claimed a surprising silver behind Jones in the 100 breast, a race she wasn't even supposed to be in. She took over when Jessica Hardy failed a doping test at the U.S. trials and was dropped from the team.
Jones was out front over the first 100, but Soni came on strong at the end, finishing a full body length ahead of the Aussie in 2:20.22. She beat Jones' mark of 2:20.54, set two 2 1/2 years ago in Melbourne.
Soni's victory came about 14 hours after American distance hopes Katie Hoff and Kate Ziegler failed to make the final of the 800 freestyle, and two summers after Soni underwent a minor heart operation.
"It's been a long road to get here, and I really can't believe that just happened," she said.
Jones claimed silver and Norway's Sara Nordenstam took bronze.
"I really couldn't breathe that last 50. I was just digging deep and couldn't breathe," Jones said. "A silver medal is still a silver medal in the Olympics. I gave it everything, I couldn't have given more."
The only non-American gold of the morning went to Germany's Britta Steffen in the 100 freestyle, ahead of Australia's Libby Trickett by four-hundredths of a second. Steffen set an Olympic record, 53.12.
American Natalie Coughlin claimed the bronze for her fifth medal of these games, matching her total from Athens with the medley relay still to go.
"I'm very proud of how I've handled the heavier workload," she said.
In other semifinals, Brazil's Cesar Cielo was top qualifier in the 50 free (21.34) and 100 gold medalist Alain Bernard of France won his heat in 21.54. American Ben Wildman-Tobriner slipped into the final, tying for the seventh-fastest time at 21.76, but teammate Garrett Weber-Gale was eliminated.
In the 200 backstroke, Zimbabwe's Kirsty Coventry led the way at 2:07.76, just ahead of 15-year-old Elizabeth Beisel (2:07.90), the youngest member of the American team. World record-holder Margaret Hoelzer of the U.S. advanced to the final with the fifth-best time, 2:08.25.
Phelps' win was the 21st world record set in swimming during the Olympics, with two days left.
Two days that could make history.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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