Skip to content

Ryan Lochte’s new emphasis adds chapter to Michael Phelps rivalry

May 20, 2014, 2:11 PM EST

Ryan Lochte Getty Images

Ryan Lochte, a man known for his race-day attire, showed up at the Charlotte Grand Prix last week in a fedora and knee brace.

The 11-time Olympic medalist had pulled out of the meet at his new training location three days in advance after aggravating a left knee injury at the Mesa Grand Prix in April. Lochte tore his left MCL and sprained his ACL when a fan ran into him on Nov. 2 and has been working to get back to 100 percent ever since, with setbacks.

He was held out of last week’s meet as a precautionary measure.

“He’s at a point now where, if he pushes it now, it could cost him going to Nationals [in August],” David Marsh, Lochte’s coach, said last week. “We’re better off playing it safe.”

Lochte, 29, moved from Gainesville, Fla., to Charlotte in October to train under Marsh and with Olympic teammates including good friend Cullen Jones and Tyler Clary. He said he questioned his future in swimming after his November injury but was inspired by longtime friendly rival Michael Phelps‘ return this spring.

Now the question is, will Lochte and Phelps duel again like they have in the previous three Olympics? Phelps and Lochte shared the medal podium in 2004, 2008 and 2012 in the 200m individual medley.

Phelps does not seem keen on picking up the IM, the decathlon of swimming, in his comeback. But Lochte and Phelps share this outlook: they both are favoring shorter distances in this Olympic cycle.

“I have the distance part done, and the endurance; I don’t have the speed,” Lochte said. “The things I want to do in 2016, I’m going to have to start learning how to do more sprint events. I can’t tell you what I want to be swimming in 2016. It’s just going to be a lot of different events and some of the same events.”

One different event would be the 100m butterfly, which Phelps has won at the last three Olympics. Lochte swam it at an Olympics or World Championships for the first time in Barcelona last year, finishing sixth at worlds. He entered it again at the Mesa Grand Prix and beat Phelps by two tenths of a second in Phelps’ first final since the London Games.

Phelps won a Lochte-less 100m fly final in Charlotte. They are the first- and second-ranked Americans in the event for 2014.

That adds a bit more sizzle to the National Championships in Irvine, Calif., in August, and, potentially, the Pan Pacific Championships later that month, when South Africa’s Chad le Clos, who won the 2013 world title in the 100m fly, could join the fray.

“Now that I’m able to compete with [Phelps] and be up there with him in the 100m fly, it’s going to be interesting,” Lochte said. “I’m not going to back down. He won’t back down. We’re going to give you guys a race.”

One U.S. Olympic swimmer makes World’s 50 Most Marketable list

Latest Posts
  1. NBC Sports, Universal to air unprecedented U.S. ski, snowboard coverage this season

    Nov 26, 2014, 1:06 PM EST

    Ted Ligety Getty Images

    Full schedule of coverage across World Cups, Grand Prix events and World Championships.

  2. U.S. figure skaters officially bronze medalists, 50 years later

    Nov 26, 2014, 7:42 AM EST

    Vivian Joseph, Ronald Joseph Getty Images

    Sister-brother team had bronze medals, but the official results didn’t reflect that until Tuesday.

  3. Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman back on USA Gymnastics national team

    Nov 25, 2014, 1:19 PM EST

    Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman Getty Images

    Neither has competed since the London Olympics.

  4. Katie Ledecky faces decisions in 2015, 2016

    Nov 25, 2014, 10:46 AM EST

    Katie Ledecky Getty Images

    Scheduling conflicts, another new event?

  5. Rio Olympic commemorative coins to be issued

    Nov 25, 2014, 9:27 AM EST

    Rio Olympic coins

    Christ the Redeemer, Olympic motto honored on the coins.

  6. Michael Phelps back in the pool; Phelps, Ledecky win Golden Goggles

    Nov 24, 2014, 10:23 PM EST

    Michael Phelps Getty Images

    Phelps is working toward 2015 goals, a North Baltimore official said.

  7. Pat Quinn, who coached Canada to gold in 2002, dies at 71

    Nov 24, 2014, 11:25 AM EST

    Pat Quinn Getty Images

    Canada won its first men’s hockey Olympic gold in 50 years under Quinn.

  8. Claressa Shields, Marlen Esparza win World Boxing Championships

    Nov 24, 2014, 10:11 AM EST

    Claressa Shields Getty Images

    Olympic champion Shields was named the tournament’s best overall boxer.

  9. Viktor Tikhonov, Soviet Union Olympic hockey coach, dies at 84

    Nov 24, 2014, 9:17 AM EST

    Viktor Tikhonov Getty Images

    Tikhonov led the Soviets in the Miracle on Ice game.

  10. Sun Yang failed drug test, served three-month ban

    Nov 24, 2014, 8:42 AM EST

    Sun Yang Getty Images

    Sun tested positive for a substance he could have used legally if he filed paperwork with anti-doping officials.

  11. Ted Ligety expected back shortly after wrist injury (video)

    Nov 23, 2014, 8:38 PM EST

    Ted Ligety

    Video of how he suffered the injury was posted on Ligety’s social media.

  12. Maksim Kovtun rallies to win Trophee Bompard (video); Grand Prix Final picture

    Nov 22, 2014, 4:24 PM EST

    Maksim Kovtun Getty Images

    It’s unlikely a U.S. man will qualify for the Grand Prix Final.

  13. Renaud Lavillenie, Valerie Adams win IAAF Athlete of the Year awards

    Nov 21, 2014, 3:10 PM EST

    Renaud Lavillenie Getty Images

    This year’s winners came from unprecedented nations and events.

  14. Ashley Wagner trails, Denis Ten leads at Trophee Bompard (video)

    Nov 21, 2014, 2:24 PM EST

    Ashley Wagner AP

    Wagner could match a Michelle Kwan feat at the French event.

  15. Angelina Jolie showed Louis Zamperini scenes of ‘Unbroken’ on hospital bed

    Nov 21, 2014, 8:59 AM EST

    Angelina Jolie, Louis Zamperini AP

    “Unbroken” film about Olympian and World War II hero comes out on Christmas.

  16. Table tennis player shoves over referee after loss (video)

    Nov 20, 2014, 5:34 PM EST

    Table Tennis

    Young Dmitry Melnichenko lost the match, then lost his cool.

  17. Joss Christensen becomes ‘mountain man’ since Sochi Olympics

    Nov 20, 2014, 4:57 PM EST

    Joss Christensen Getty Images

    Olympic ski slopestyle champion uses a chainsaw every day.