The most decorated Olympic athlete in history, Michael Phelps, is heading into his fourth Summer Olympic games as the underdog in the pool. Ryan Lochte, currently going head to head with Phelps in the Olympic trials, is the man to beat in the London waters.
If the 2011 Swimming World Championships in Shanghai weren’t enough, than the US trials are more proof of how Lochte is the best swimmer in the world today and even worse for Phelps, is great at everything he’s competing in as well.
Lochte beat Phelps in the 200 meter freestyle and the 200 meter medley in Shanghai, also taking the gold in the 400 IM, with Phelps not taking part in the race. Phelps’ only individual golds in China last year came in the butterfly events, which Lochte doesn’t participate in. In Omaha, the two opened by going head to head in the 400 IM, which Lochte won with 4:07.06, just ahead of Phelps 4:07.89.
The top two spots go to London anyway, while Phelps was able to console himself with the achievement of becoming the first American Male Swimmer to reach four Olympic games.
There doesn’t seem to be any animosity between the two, no hatred. Just competition and a bit of friendship. The two will be swimming together in a few relays together very soon, hoping to win and add a few more gold pieces to their cabinets. Lochte won two Olympic gold medals in Beijing – one in the 200 meter backstroke and one in the 4×200 freestyle. He finished third in both individual medleys, behind Phelps.
Phelps said he wouldn’t be going for 8 different events in London. So he said. He’s setting himself up for a Marathon-like, exhausting week once again. Knowing, or at least saying that this is his final time in the pool, Phelps probably wants to leave the sport in a blaze of glory, adding to his 14 Olympic gold medals. Lochte just wants a chance at a legacy, at being regarded as one of the great American swimmers.