Ryan Lochte: Lack of Dominance Shows He Remains in Michael Phelps' Shadow

Sam R. QuinnSenior Analyst IIIAugust 2, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 02:  Gold medallist Michael Phelps (R) of the United States looks on along with silver medallist Ryan Lochte (L) of the United States following the Men's 200m Individual Medley final on Day 6 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on August 2, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

American swimmer Ryan Lochte has been far from disappointing in the 2012 London Olympics, but he hasn't been able to achieve the result he surely wanted in these Games.

Lochte was supposed to be the usurper to Michael Phelps' throne atop the swimming world, and his journey to the top was supposed to begin at these Olympics.

The 28-year-old Rochester native started his London campaign on the right foot by bringing home the gold medal in the 400-meter individual medley in his first event.

Aside from one exception, it has been all downhill from there.

In Lochte's second event, the 4x100-meter freestyle relay, he was the man who cost his country the gold medal. That sounds a bit harsh, and maybe it is, but he jumped into the pool with a lead and came out in second place.

The 4x200-meter freestyle relay was much kinder to Lochte. He started the race off for the Americans, getting them out to a nice lead, but he was overshadowed. 

Phelps swam the anchor leg of that race. It didn't just bring the country a gold medal, but it was the 19th medal in Phelps career, making him the most decorated Olympian of all time.

Lochte faltered down the stretch yet again in the 200-meter backstroke final. That time it was to teammate Tyler Clary and Japan's Ryosuke Irie. Lochte had the lead for the majority of the 200 meters, but was hunted down by Clary in a stunning closing display.

Lochte's latest race was a microcosm of his United States swimming career. He once again played second fiddle to his old pal Phelps in the 200-meter IM, touching the wall 0.63 seconds behind "The Baltimore Bullet."

Winning five medals in one Olympics is nothing to hang your head about, but this was supposed to be the year that Lochte stole the show from an unmotivated Phelps.

Phelps hasn't been the otherworldly swimmer that he was in 2008, winning "just" four medals out of a possible five, but he's already proved himself on the international stage.

No matter what Lochte does in these Olympics, he's never going to get out of Phelps' shadow until he competes without him. That doesn't seem all that unlikely, as Phelps claims he will not be coming back in 2016, while Lochte figures to have one more in him.

Despite the impressive display at these Games, there is nothing that can vault Lochte ahead of Phelps in terms of popularity and allure.