Skip to content

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

May 20, 2014, 2:11 PM EDT

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. Rio Olympic ticket prices start at about $20 in Brazil

    Sep 16, 2014, 4:10 PM EDT

    Rio 2016

    More than 7.5 million tickets will be available for the Games.

  2. Kohei Uchimura’s mother competes in gymnastics meet

    Sep 16, 2014, 11:35 AM EDT

    Kohei Uchimura Getty Images

    Shuko Uchimura hadn’t competed in some 30 years, according to Japanese report.

  3. Boston’s potential advantage in 2024 Olympic bid race

    Sep 16, 2014, 9:11 AM EDT

    Boston Getty Images

    “The city is the Olympic park,” official tells Boston Globe.

  4. Paralympic president clarifies Pistorius stance, looks to Rio

    Sep 15, 2014, 4:27 PM EDT

    Oscar Pistorius, Alan Oliveira Getty Images

    IPC president Sir Philip Craven looks ahead to an anniversary and a new frontier for the Paralympics.

  5. Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps hope to meet for first time before Olympic farewell

    Sep 15, 2014, 2:36 PM EDT

    Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps Getty Images

    The greatest Olympians of this generation discuss thoughts on one another.

  6. U.S. men’s volleyball team eliminated at World Championships

    Sep 15, 2014, 11:44 AM EDT

    USA Volleyball Getty Images

    U.S. bounced in Poland with five-set loss to Argentina.

  7. What U.S.’ FIBA World Cup title means for Olympics

    Sep 15, 2014, 11:16 AM EDT

    Kyrie Irving AP

    The second-biggest winner from the FIBA World Cup may be a nation that didn’t compete in Spain.

  8. Carolina Kostner called to hearing in ex-boyfriend’s doping case

    Sep 15, 2014, 11:05 AM EDT

    Carolina Kostner Getty Images

    Olympic bronze medalist figure skater dated Olympic race-walking champion when he tested positive.

  9. Oscar Pistorius’ Nike contract terminated

    Sep 13, 2014, 8:52 PM EDT

    Oscar Pistorius

    Nike had suspended its contract with the runner six days after he shot and killed his girlfriend.

  10. Jenny Simpson has long-standing record in sight after spectacular season

    Sep 12, 2014, 4:50 PM EDT

    Jenny Simpson Getty Images

    Simpson, racing the Fifth Avenue Mile on Saturday, is one tenth away from breaking a 31-year-old mark.

  11. Things Mutaz Barshim could jump over (photos)

    Sep 12, 2014, 1:15 PM EDT

    Mutaz Barshim

    High jumper hashtag has taken social media by storm.

  12. Reeva Steenkamp’s mom says justice was not served in Oscar Pistorius trial (video)

    Sep 12, 2014, 12:10 PM EDT

    Barry Steenkamp, June Steenkamp Getty Images

    Steenkamp’s parents want to meet with Pistorius, they told NBC News.

  13. Oscar Pistorius would be allowed in Paralympics after serving sentence

    Sep 12, 2014, 11:42 AM EDT

    Oscar Pistorius Getty Images

    “We would not stand in his way,” IPC spokesman said.

  14. Oscar Pistorius guilty of culpable homicide (verdict video)

    Sep 12, 2014, 7:48 AM EDT

    Oscar Pistorius AP

    Runner faces up to 15 years in prison, plus sentence for gun charge.

  15. World Gymnastics Championships nominative lists announced

    Sep 11, 2014, 1:02 PM EDT

    Simone Biles Getty Images

    U.S. women’s team won’t officially be named until next week.

  16. Mikaela Shiffrin eyes breakthrough with World Cup season approaching

    Sep 11, 2014, 12:47 PM EDT

    Mikaela Shiffrin Getty Images

    Olympic slalom champion hopes for multiple World Cup giant slalom wins this season.

  17. Oscar Pistorius trial judge rules out murder, verdict incomplete

    Sep 11, 2014, 9:15 AM EDT

    Oscar Pistorius Getty Images

    Runner could still face up to 15 years in prison for culpable homicide.