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Ryan Lochte thinks Phelps is coming back soon

May 23, 2013, 10:23 AM EDT

Andrew P. Scott/USA Today Sports Andrew P. Scott/USA Today Sports

Despite all the rumors that swimming legend Michael Phelps will return to the pool for one more go at the Rio Games, he seems to be pretty content spending his first year of retirement golfing with the likes of his idol, Michael Jordan.

But Phelps’s friend and top-rival Ryan Lochte said he thinks it’s just a matter of time before Phelps gets the itch to dive back into competition.

“Michael Phelps is the hardest racer I ever went up against,” Lochte, an eleven-time Olympic medalist, told the Indo-Asian News Service Wednesday in Vancouver. “What he’s done for this sport of swimming is tremendous. I hope he comes back in. I think he will. I know he will. It’s just a matter of time and when. I know he will.”

Lochte wouldn’t actually say whether or not he’s talked to Phelps about a possible comeback, but instead Lochte just claimed he had a sixth sense about it: “I can’t say. I just have a feeling. I’ll just leave it at that. I have a feeling he’ll come back…” adding that the sport is better with Phelps around.

“The friendship that we’ve developed throughout the years of racing each other and the rivalry it’s one of the biggest in the sport and we had a lot of fun doing it. So I definitely hope he comes back because in a way he pushed me and I pushed him… it was definitely great for the sport.”

Three-time Olympic gold medalist and NBC swimming analyst Rowdy Gaines is also pretty confident Phelps will be back soon, even after he became the most decorated Olympian in history. But Gaines thinks Phelps wants to make the announcement on his own terms, if at all.

“I know he has 80,000 gold medals already,” Gaines told MyDesert.com. “But still, you don’t want to have that eating at you. ‘What if I would have come back? What if I would have made one last run?’ Especially if he still has the desire to compete.”

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Featured video

Inside Michael Phelps' comeback