How many times have we heard that phrase, "...loves racing Michael Phelps"...? I sort of forget that Lochte felt that way after the first 30-times I heard this "mantra" but by the 50th-time-or-so, it began to sink in.
Why is Ryan Lochte always repeating that he "...loves to race Phelps?" We have been hearing that as far back as 2008 and we all know it is true. We categorically knew it was true when we watched the two race each other in the 400 IM in Beijing. We also know it is sincere and we do feel how hungry he is to do it too.
It's as if Lochte is a young gunslinger who is looking for Phelps in the streets of "Dodge City" to prove he is the best in the west. It's as if he wants to be known as the gunslinger that had a quicker draw, a faster shot, and thereby replaced Phelps as the "new sheriff in town." With all the cowboy metaphors out of the way, I suspect there is an economic interest to all of this as well.
By intertwining his destiny with the best swimmer ever in the media interviews, I suspect that this is presumably a PR ploy by his handlers so as to "draft" off of Phelps' name recognition, his stellar accomplishments, and thereby potentially get him a bigger post Olympic paycheck if Lochte can defeat him.
Do I think he will beat Phelps? I don't know, but the odds favor Phelps since I suspect he will be swimming a less demanding program than he did in Beijing. My premise is that Phelps has handlers too and his London Olympics is not about accomplishment anymore but rather legacy. If he so chose to ignore Lochte and just swam the 100-fly, 200 fly, and a medley-relay, their would be no "gunfight" and Phelps would finish off his Olympic career unbeaten in two consecutive Olympics thus remaining "the fastest gun alive"
From USA Today:
Lochte beat Phelps in their two common events at the 2011 World Championships in Shanghai, the 200 free and the 200 IM, en route to five golds, compared to four for Phelps. Neither has confirmed which races they hope to swim in London.
"I'm in the perfect shape that I've ever been in in my entire life," Lochte said. "I want it really bad. It might not seem like it right now, but come when the time's right, I'll be ready."
"The guy's got his eyes on some big prizes," Busch said, "so just watch him go."