Olympic Focus: Ryan Lochte

After the exploits of Michael Phelps, Tom Daley and Adam Peaty, plus the bizarre story of the green water, it is little wonder the swimming pool is once again the topic of interest as the Olympics reaches the end of its first week in Rio.

But amidst the successes and achievements of the aforementioned athletes, the focus of this article lands on a man who’s blitzing third leg of the 4x400m men’s relay provided the platform for Phelps to win his historic 21st gold medal.

Ryan Lochte is 32 years old, a multiple medal winner at the Olympics, and yet it still feels like he has something to prove to himself and his peers. The baby faced New Yorker, an expert in individual medley events and freestyle (front crawl to you and me) competition, is one of the most decorated Americans to ever traverse the waters of competitive swimming.

Many forget that he is in fact a year senior to Phelps, given his boyish features and has constantly lived in the shadow of his rival. Were it not for Phelps, it would be Lochte who would stand atop a plinth of Olympic greatness, alongside Mark Spitz, rather than a collection of proud, but ultimately found wanting, silvers and team golds.

Yet he has a chance to spoil the retirement party. As said before, he specialises in the individual medley, and in fact is the world record holder in such a discipline over 100m, 200m and 400m. Phelps and Lochte will go toe to toe once again as they race the 200m individual medley.

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The onus will naturally be on Phelps to collect yet another gold medal. It is almost scripted that the man from Maryland will triumph in any and all events he contests. Although Lochte is no stranger to victory over Phelps, however rare it may be, and he can beat him.

Despite finishing second in the semi-finals to Phelps in the 200m I.M, Lochte swam a 1.55.8 at last years World Aquatics Championships, and knows he will have to save his best till last as Phelps recorded a 1.55.7 in the semi finals, half a second ahead of Lochte (1.56.2).

He will go down as one of the 21st centuries most successful swimmers, and yet for Lochte, and for most enthusiasts of swimming, it will feel like he was denied so much more by the sheer dominance of Phelps.