Ryan Lochte is almost as popular as Michael Phelps right now...almost.
However, two stars are too many for the U.S. Olympic swimming team to hold in London, and one will be pushed out of the picture during the Games.
That one will be Lochte.
A six-time Olympic medalist and holder of four world records, Lochte is an amazing athlete, and he deserves all the fame he has been receiving. However, it won't last for much longer.
Lochte has been a part of two Olympic Games, and will enter his third in London. And yet, he has not been very popular until these last few months.
This is due in part to the fact that swimming is not a huge sport. Very few people watch swimming except for during the Olympic Games, and few swimmers have the ability to stay a household name for more than a few months.
Lochte has been the exception that proves the rule over the last two months or so. He has been doing extremely well at the Olympic trials, and he has gained his popularity because he has beaten such a great athlete in Phelps.
Lochte has bee everywhere. On sports shows, on the radio, online. Almost everyone has seen his Gatorade commercials that call him the fastest swimmer in the world.
Right now he is a hot topic, if only for a few months.
The other major reason is that he has been in the shadow of Michael Phelps, who has dominated the sport and the press for years. No other swimmer has been able to stay popular with Phelps in the spotlight, including Lochte.
While some may argue that this is all in the past, it will repeat once again after the London Games.
Whichever swimmer does better during the Olympics will become the new face of the sport, and that will be Phelps.
Lochte has been besting him at a few events during the Olympic trials and before, but Phelps is improving. He is slowly coming back to form and becoming the swimmer that everyone loved after winning eight golds in Beijing.
With a few weeks left to train before the Games begin, and a schedule that allows him proper rest between events, Phelps will be dominant once more.
If Phelps can win five or six of his seven events and add to his gold medal count, he will claim the spotlight once again, and push Lochte out of the picture.
While both men would receive the attention they deserve in a perfect world, the sport of swimming cannot have two huge stars, even if it is in a rivalry.
If Lochte allows Phelps to beat him again and again in London, he will soon fade from our memories, while Phelps cements his place in history.