It is very difficult to classify any silver-medal-winning Olympic performance as disappointing.
However, the U.S. 4x100 freestyle performance might be just that.
The Americans weren't even the gold-medal favorites going into the race (Australia was) but once the dust had settled, the U.S. swimming team was seemingly left with a sour-tasting silver.
So, where did it all go wrong?
They say hindsight is 20/20, but I don't think hindsight was needed in this case.
Here's the deal. Nathan Adrian and Cullen Jones were awarded their spots on the 4x100 free team by taking the top two spots in the 100-meter freestyle at the U.S. trials.
Michael Phelps was also a near-lock, having been on the previous two 4x100 Olympic teams, and well, because he's Michael Phelps.
That left the fourth and final spot on the team to be filled by either Ryan Lochte, or any one of the members of the relay team who posted a solid split in qualifying.
Enter Matt Grevers. The new Olympic-record holder in the 100-meter backstroke posted a sterling 47.54 split in the preliminaries and by all means deserved a spot in the finals.
However, the coaching staff went with Lochte who historically is not a sprinter, and was coming off of an already busy day in the pool (not to mention the 400 IM the day before). Additionally, at the U.S. trials in June, Lochte was recorded at 49.33 and 48.91 in the 100 free.
The final decision left the potential missing piece to a gold-medal-winning relay on the sidelines.
Not only was Ryan Lochte selected to be the final member of the 400-meter freestyle relay team, he was also slotted in the anchor position.
However, the biggest disappointment was that there seemed to be no fight from Lochte. No win-or-die mentality, and not a glimpse of a there's-no-way-in-hell-I'm-getting-beat-down-the-stretch type of attitude.
Ryan Lochte got passed like he expected it to happen.
And then afterwards, he made excuses. As reported by Erik Brady of USATODAY:
"The 100 free, I don't really swim it," Lochte said. "I haven't swum it in a long time. I think I over-swam the first 50 (meters), which kind of hurt me for the last 50."
C'mon, man. You're supposed to be the best all-around swimmer on the planet and you did swim the 100 free this June.
Maybe Jason Lezak just spoiled us.
Ryan Lochte opened up his 2012 Olympics with an impressive and dominating win in the 400 meter individual medley relay.
He then went and celebrated said victory until two in the morning that night (or rather, the next day).
As reported by AP's Beth Harris, Lochte noted:
"I didn't get to bed until like 2 a.m. so I'm a little tired..."
Yeah, I'd say.
Now to Lochte's credit, he did have a extensive post-race checklist that needed to be completed following his late swim in the 400 IM (cool down, interviews, drug test, and a dinner)—but 2:00 a.m.?
Now I'm clearly not a relay teammate of Lochte's, but if I was, I'd tell him to save the celebration until the end of the meet.
Americans like being on top of the world. We are marked by our insatiable desire to be the best at what we do.
Up until the year 2000, the United States never lost a 400-meter freestyle relay in Olympic history.
Since, 2000, we have lost three out of the last four 400-meter freestyle relays.