BEIJING, CHINA – With the Olympics finally here, all eyes seem to be on Michael Phelps and his quest for eight gold medals or the incredible return of Dara Torres. But one major story seems to continuously slip through the cracks unnoticed: Ryan Lochte and his goal of a record setting 9 silver medals.
Lochte, the 24 year old Floridian, is by all accounts one of the best swimmers in the world today. According to himself, he is THE best, at being second. As long as he can remember, he has dreamed of besting the now 92 year old record of 8 silver medals won by a single person in one Olympics set in the first games of the modern era in 1896 by some guy from Greece.
"Nobody can remember the guys name, but he definitely won 8 silver medals." said IOC spokesperson Manuel Pierre-Thiebault.
“I know that Michael [Phelps] gets all the publicity, but really Ryan’s goal of 9 silvers is much more difficult”, explained US head coach Mark Schubert. “All Michael has to do is go as fast as he can from start to finish. Ryan has to perfectly pace himself in order to not win, but to not finish third either. That can be a matter of milliseconds sometimes. There are parts of the race where he has to speed up, and other parts where he has to slow down and wait for people. It’s more than just physicality. It’s also menticality. Is that a word?”
Being the greatest in the world at being the second greatest in the world is not a very easy task. There have been many occasions where Ryan has accidentally finished first, including an event earlier this year where he lost his concentration mid-swim and ended up setting a world record in the Men’s 200 Meter Backstroke, a record he hopes someone crushes in these Olympics.
“I learned my lesson the hard way that day.” Lochte told reporters. “I looked up during the race and thought I spotted [1972 Olympic silver medalist in the 100 meter freestyle] Tom Bruce in the stands and the excitement threw me off a little. After that I decided that I’ve got to stay mentally focused at all times or I could come in first without even realizing it.”
Whether or not he is able to accomplish his lofty goals, Ryan is going to cherish his Olympic experience, after which, he'll just go back to being a normal video game playing, music listening, Robert E. Lee-loving 24 year old. But for now, this former high school saluditorian is going to do all he can to go down in history as the greatest second greatest athlete in history.
Continued Lochte: “Hopefully I can become one of the legends, like the 1990-1993 Buffalo Bills, or my all-time favorite, the 1980 Russian hockey team.”