LONDON – It was the matchup every swimming fan had anticipated since the Olympics began. Michael Phelps-Ryan Lochte. Ryan Lochte-Michael Phelps.
One last time for old times’ sake, except this year was Lochte’s year. This time was Lochte’s time. Or so Lochte claimed after beating Phelps in the 400 individual medley to open the meet.
In the end, it was the same ol’ same ol’. Phelps led wire-to-wire and touched in 1:54.27 to edge Lochte for the gold by 0.63 seconds. It was Phelps who won another gold medal, and Phelps who set another record in becoming the first male swimmer to win the same individual event in three consecutive Olympics.
Lochte couldn’t even beat teammate Tyler Clary in the 200 backstroke earlier Thursday as Clary broke Lochte’s Olympic record from 2008 with a 1:53.41. Lochte finished second in 1:53.78.
“Whenever I step on the blocks, I always want to win,” Lochte said. “That’s just the mindset that I have. But sometimes you have it; sometimes you don’t.”
Lochte and his coach, Gregg Troy, tried their best to put a positive spin on Lochte’s Olympics. It is true he is going home with five Olympic medals after swimming six events, something few Olympians will accomplish this year or have accomplished at any games. That’s certainly “above average,” as Lochte characterized it.
“How many people walk out with five medals?” Troy said. “I mean, it’s way above average. It’s just not quite. … You come with real high expectations. Sometimes you get them. Sometimes you don’t.”
Phelps, who swims the final individual race of his career today, remains the star of Olympic stars. He added to his record-medal haul Thursday with the 20th of his career, including 16 gold. Phelps has four medals this Olympics, including two golds, and could walk away with two more golds.
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