Swimmer Ryan Lochte is the first American to strike gold at the 2012 London Olympics. Lochte took the top spot in the Men’s 400-meter individual medley. Fellow American Michael Phelps finished a surprising fourth. Lochte defeated Phelps in the same event at the US Olympic Trials last month in Omaha.

With First Lady Michelle Obama watching it looked like a Phelps-Lochte showdown through the first two legs. But Lochte was better in the butterfly — one of Phelps’ signature strokes. And then the Florida swimmer blew away the two-time defending Olympian champion in the backstroke.

“Four years is a long time,” Lochte told British television in a reference to the Beijing Games. “I know this is my time. I’m just going out there and having fun and doing what I do best: racing.”

Brazil’s Thiago Pereira won the silver while Kosuke Hagino of Japan chased down Phelps to win the bronze.

[SanJoseMercury News.com]