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. Missy Franklin on her dream relay, unusual autographs, ‘the worm’

    Apr 27, 2015, 1:40 PM EDT

    Missy Franklin Getty Images

    The five-time Olympic medalist also discussed getting to know Mark Spitz in a Q&A.

  2. Tanith Belbin, Charlie White get married

    Apr 27, 2015, 12:28 PM EDT

    Tanith Belbin, Charlie White

    Austrian Alpine skiers with eight combined Olympic medals also got hitched.

  3. U.S. crushes Russia in Sochi rematch at IPC World Sled Hockey Championship

    Apr 27, 2015, 9:17 AM EDT

    Josh Sweeney Getty Images

    The U.S. is back on the ice on Monday night on NBC Sports Live Extra.

  4. Japan ski jumper Noriaki Kasai wants to compete past age 50

    Apr 27, 2015, 8:45 AM EDT

    Noriaki Kasai Getty Images

    The 2026 Olympics could be particularly meaningful for ski jumping’s old man.

  5. Badminton star Lee Chong Wei receives backdated doping ban

    Apr 27, 2015, 8:29 AM EDT

    AP AP

    Lee captured silver medals at the last two Olympics but was stripped of a World Championships medal.

  6. London Marathon produces surprise men’s, women’s winners

    Apr 26, 2015, 7:55 AM EDT

    Eliud Kipchoge Getty Images

    Also, Paula Radcliffe was interviewed by the BBC in the middle of her marathon farewell.

  7. IPC Sled Hockey World Championship starts Sunday; full broadcast schedule

    Apr 25, 2015, 11:10 AM EDT

    Sled Hockey Getty Images

    The U.S.’ first opponent marks a rematch of the Sochi gold-medal game.

  8. Kirani James breaks Michael Johnson record at Drake Relays

    Apr 25, 2015, 10:33 AM EDT

    Kirani James AP

    Only two men have ever run faster this early in the season.

  9. Bruce Jenner: I’m a woman; Olympians react

    Apr 25, 2015, 8:53 AM EDT

    AP AP

    Jenner explained how he felt different while winning the decathlon at the Montreal 1976 Olympics.

  10. Watch Drake Relays, Penn Relays on NBC Sports Live Extra on Saturday

    Apr 24, 2015, 3:51 PM EDT

    Justin Gatlin Getty Images

    Several Olympic champions are in the fields at the two meets.

  11. Michael Phelps to move to Arizona with coach Bob Bowman

    Apr 24, 2015, 3:50 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Phelps has followed Bowman to an NCAA stop before.

  12. Simone Biles discusses Martha Karolyi’s team selfie, U.S. teammates, more

    Apr 24, 2015, 12:24 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Biles is in the middle of a four-month break from competition.

  13. Sled hockey helps Josh Sweeney in his recovery (video)

    Apr 24, 2015, 11:09 AM EDT

    Josh Sweeney Getty Images

    Sweeney and Team USA begin World Championship play Sunday.

  14. Tara Lipinski, Johnny Weir headed to White House Correspondents’ Dinner, Kentucky Derby

    Apr 24, 2015, 10:26 AM EDT

    Johnny Weir, Tara Lipinski Getty Images

    NBC’s figure skating analysts will be visible daily during Kentucky Derby week.

  15. New MLB commissioner wants long-term baseball pledge from Olympics

    Apr 23, 2015, 4:51 PM EDT

    AP AP

    But he also shares the sentiment of Bud Selig on MLB participation.

  16. Doug E. Doug reflects on ‘Cool Runnings’

    Apr 23, 2015, 2:25 PM EDT

    Doug E. Doug Getty Images

    Doug wasn’t allowed to bobsled while filming, but he recently took his first run.