Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte are about to turn the U.S. Olympic swimming trials into a two-man show, and for good reason. How these two matchup against each other is going to go a long way towards showing the world how men's swimming at the Olympics will play out.
While it is a little ridiculous to say that a 14-time Olympic gold medalist would have to prove himself, that is exactly what Phelps must do.
Phelps left the Beijing Games as an unstoppable force and on a short list for the discussion of world's greatest athlete. He has since been far less dominant.
However, this is likely attributed to a loss in interest and desire to train, than it is to declining skills. And it is certainly understandable that Phelps would go through a period like that after all he has accomplished.
How many golds will Phelps win at the Olympics?
The question now is: can he return to top form after losing that form?
He is close. He has looked good in his early work at the Olympic swimming trials, and now he is getting ready to face off against the best competition he is going to find in Lochte.
These two will begin their showdowns in the finals of the 400-meter individual medley. Phelps is the world record holder in this event, but Lochte has posted a faster time while making the finals.
This is a chance for Phelps to put the swimming world on notice. If he is able to handle Lochte at these trials, there is little hope for the rest of the swimmers to stop him at the Olympics.
Phelps has already made rapid gains in his return to form. If those gains already have him taking down a someone of Lochte's caliber, he is going to leave with another neck full of gold at the 2012 Olympics.