Ryan Lochte has been far from a disappointment at this year’s Olympic Games in London. He may not have won all of the gold medals that he was going for, but two gold medals, two silver and a bronze medal reflect an amazing performance in London.
What Lochte does have going against him though, is the comparison to Michael Phelps. How can the two even be compared? Michael Phelps is on a completely different level from almost all other swimmers. Phelps will more than likely be remembered as one of the greatest swimmers of all time; he has managed to earn 20 medals in his career, after all.
But that should in no way play a role in determining how good Lochte is.
Lochte was off to a hot start when the London Olympic Games began. Grabbing the gold for the USA in the men's 400-meter individual medley and finishing three seconds ahead of second place, Lochte immediately showed the world why he is such a dominant swimmer.
He would also end up with a gold medal in the Men's 4x200-meter freestyle relay, along with teammates Ricky Berens, Michael Phelps, Conor Dwyer, Charles Houchin, Matthew McLean and Davis Tarwater.
While Lochte might not have won all the events he competed in, his lowest placing was fourth in men's 200-meter freestyle.
He ended up with two silver medals—in the men's 200-meter Individual medley and in the men's 4x100-meter freestyle relay. He would also win a bronze medal in the men's 200-meter backstroke.
Clearly, Lochte had a stellar Olympic performance. Instead of talking about how well he competed though, it seems as if the focus is on how he failed to deliver.
After he beat Michael Phelps in the 400-meter IM event, it seemed as though the world was talking about how Lochte was ready to dethrone the renowned swimming champion.
Lochte was set up to be the next big thing after his dominant performance, and when he failed to put on the same showing in other events, he went from Phelps' replacement to failing to live up to the hype.
What Ryan Lochte managed to accomplish at this year's Olympics is nothing short of impressive.
Did he fail to live up to the hype? If you compared him to Michael Phelps, he did. But comparing any swimmer to Phelps will yield a disappointing result.
Stuck in the Shadows
When was it decided that this year was going to be Lochte's year at the summer Olympics? Why was Phelps thrown out, and Lochte put in his place as the top swimmer?
Lochte might appear to be stuck in the shadow of Michael Phelps, but so is pretty much every other swimmer who has gone up against the swimming champ.
Is Lochte really one step behind Phelps? His loss to Phelps in the 200-meter IM on Thursday was his 20th to Phelps out of the 26 races in which they've faced each other. However, it was just his third loss to Phelps since 2010.
His second place performance in the 200-meter IM easily reflect the fact that he had just been in the 200-meter backstroke event 30 minutes prior.
"I may have been lucky that Ryan had a 200 back 30 minutes beforehand," Phelps told ESPN.com. "He can probably swim faster than I went tonight. I'm sure you'll see him swim faster over the next four years, but I was lucky enough to get the gold medal."
Lochte has been giving Phelps a run for his money outside of the Olympics as well. He has been beating Phelps since the 2010 Pan Pacific Championships. He also beat Phelps in the 200 IM and 200 free at last year's World Championships.
Lochte, in his own right, is a fantastic swimmer. Is he stuck in the shadow of Michael Phelps? Of course he is. Every Olympic American swimmer is. Still, Lochte's performance at the London Olympics should be celebrated, not looked down on.
It's hard to talk about Ryan Lochte—or any other swimmer—without comparing him to Michael Phelps. Phelps has set a high standard in Olympic swimming competitions, and we may never see it reached. Regardless, Phelps is as good as he is because he has competition like Ryan Lochte constantly pushing him to be better.
In the end, Lochte crushed the competition in the 400-meter IM and gave Phelps a run for his money in the 200-meter IM. His overall performance at the London Olympics has been extremely impressive. And without a doubt, Lochte is one of the top swimmers in the world.
When he gears up to make a return in four years for the Olympic Games in Rio, look for Lochte to come back even stronger, and continue to show the world why he is a top swimmer.
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