Ryan Lochte: 3 Reasons the U.S. Swimmer Will Not Upstage Michael Phelps in 2012
No matter how well Lochte performs in London and how many medals he wins, the American swimmer will not be able to upstage Michael Phelps in 2012.
While Lochte might be dreaming of becoming the face of American swimming by the conclusion of the London Games, 2012 will not be the year that this 27-year-old aquatic machine dethrones Michael Phelps, who has reigned as the king of U.S. swimming since his record-setting performance in the 2008 Beijing Games.
Although Lochte has already locked in two gold medals (one more than Phelps), he is marred by three factors which will always keep him in Phelps’ shadow.
1. Inconsistent Performance
Team USA was favored to win the gold in the men’s 4x100 freestyle heading into the race.
The team consisted of Nathan Adrian, Michael Phelps, Cullen Jones and Ryan Lochte as the anchor. The day before the team competed, Lochte snagged a gold medal in the 400-meter individual medley.
It was a great win for Lochte and for the U.S. But when it came down to nabbing the gold for Team USA, Lochte fell short. As the anchor, Lochte gave up the American team’s lead and fell behind Yannick Agnel.
So the story went, France surprisingly won gold and the U.S. had to settle for silver. It was a devastating slip-up for Lochte and a shock to the fans.
Two days later, Lochte, Phelps, Dwyer Conor, and Ricky Berens won gold in the men’s 4x200 freestyle but, even still, Americans won’t be able to shake off settling for silver in the 4x100 freestyle.
While Lochte is still delivering medals for Team USA, his unpredictable performance in the pool unfortunately leaves us all wondering which medals he will manage to bring home.
2. Phelps Made His Mark
Lochte will not be able to upstage Phelps at the 2012 London Games simply because every achievement Lochte is working towards in these games...Phelps achieved first.
Phelps has made U.S. swimming what it is today. Phelps holds the most medals of any Olympian with a record total of 19 medals and numerous world records. Phelps won gold in all eight of the events he competed in at the 2008 Beijing Games.
Because of Michael Phelps and his incredible feats, American sports fans started paying attention to swimming. He truly popularized the sport.
Lochte will always remain in Phelps’ shadow because he will always be working to match or surpass titles that Phelps has already claimed.
Michael Phelps is America’s Olympic hero and a swimming legend. Regardless of what may happen in the sport’s future, when Americans think swimming, Phelps will always be the first person to come to mind.
3. Media Coverage
When it comes to media coverage, Lochte can’t seem to catch a break. In his first event, Lochte clinched the gold over Phelps who failed to medal completely.
The 400-meter individual medley was their first competition in the 2012 London Games and Lochte smoked Phelps (to everyone’s surprise). But the media headlines, Twitter feeds and Facebook updates still featured Phelps, instead of Lochte and his impressive win.
The media focused on Phelps and his shocking loss, and even more astonishing fourth-place finish. You have to feel bad for the guy. In his first 2012 Olympic competition, Lochte won the gold for his country but the media was too busy focusing on Phelps’ loss.
Not only can Lochte not surpass Phelps’ past accomplishments in the pool, but he also struggles to upstage the legendary swimmer in media coverage.
And this fate was clear even before the two swimmers arrived in London. Earlier this summer, Phelps announced that this would be his last Olympic appearance and set the stage to become the talk of the 2012 Games.
This is the last chance to see Phelps compete in the Olympics and add to his record number of 19 medals. When it comes to upstaging Phelps in media coverage, Lochte doesn’t stand a chance in 2012.
An incredible athlete and Olympian, Lochte is undeniably one of America’s finest in this year’s Games. But while competing alongside some of America’s best swimmers, Lochte will remain just that—a teammate, another front-runner, but ultimately, a great swimmer who will still be overshadowed by Phelp’s iconic presence in the 2012 Games.