Not one other swimming event in London will compare to what viewers will see in the 200 individual medley between Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte.
There have been several exciting events thus far including those where there were extremely close finishes and world records set, but the 200 IM is what we’ve been waiting for. It’s the final duel between teammates and rivals, Phelps and Lochte.
Phelps and Lochte have the ability to work together. They did win gold in the 4x200 meter freestyle and silver in the 4x100 meter freestyle, but watching them compete against each other is much more exciting. The Phelps-Lochte rivalry has grown to astronomical heights.
Lochte won the gold medal in the 400 IM while Phelps finished eighth. Phelps had won the Olympic gold in the event at the two previous Games, but he couldn’t even place in London.
Now, we have the other event where they’ll compete against each other for the chance at another gold medal, the 200 IM.
Lochte overtook the world record in the qualifier with a time of one minute, 54 seconds. Phelps finished second in his heat by just the slimmest of margins.
Then, in the semifinal heat, Lochte and Phelps were neck and neck until the finish, but Lochte pulled ahead. If you listen to the broadcast of the heat, the announcers make up an excuse for Phelps falling behind, saying he let Lochte win because he didn’t need this one.
I doubt that’s the case. Phelps and Lochte are two of the best swimmers in the world, and there’s no way that one of them “lets” the other win at anything. They are masters of their skill and should want to win every single event, whether it is a qualifier, semifinal or final.
The 200 IM will be a sprint to the finish line, and it’s definitely going to be close. Phelps has won the last two gold medals in this event, and he definitely wants to win his third straight. Of course, I’m sure he wants the United States to get gold, which they will should Lochte win too, but there’s no doubt he would rather be the victor.
“You can guarantee that we’re going to race each other and we’re going to race each other hard,” Phelps said via NBC Olympics. “It’s one of the races where, like at Trials, it comes down to the touch. I know I have to try to hit every turn well and try to build momentum.”
Lochte already beat Phelps in the 400 IM, and losing again in an event where he’s dominated will not sit well with Phelps. This will be the most competitive race that we’ve seen in a very long time, if not ever. It’s two world-class swimmers going head to head for the gold medal. Nothing is better than that.