Admit it: you probably never cared about swimming until Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte came along. This year’s Olympic swimming has been outstanding and has continued the Phelps/Lochte argument. While Michael Phelps has clearly outpaced Lochte in overall medal count, Lochte has always been the vine wrapped around Phelps’ ankle, keeping him from ascending to the heavens.
Since 2004, every single 200 IM Olympic gold medal has been won by Phelps. But since 2009, every World Championship has been won by Lochte. The current World Record is held by Lochte. Tonight, for most likely the last time, they battled.
And what a show it was. The 200 IM is often considered the most grueling race, a combination of a distance that’s formidable in length but short enough to require an all-out spring. The combination of four wildly different strokes asks so much of a swimmer’s agility, flexibility and technique.
Halfway through, with the butterfly and backstroke lengths done, it was a race. I swear! But then the Phelps we’ve all seen emerge this week took over in the back half, building a lead in the breaststroke that he only increased in the final 50 of freestyle. In the end, he was a body and a half clear of his closest competitor, and Lochte faded down the stretch en route to a 5th place finish.
If you were watching in Canada however, you might be surprised to learn that Phelps won!
But alas, the legend stays legendary. Farewell, fish. It’s been a blast watching you both compete the last ten years, but at least we’ll always have What Would Ryan Lochte Do?