What totally took me by surprise was that Ryan Lochte was not even in the top three; he came in fourth behind Missy Franklin.
From the Washington Post:
"... “It’s an intriguing story,” Wallechinsky said of the Phelps-Lochte drama that could develop. “But trying to sell a U.S. versus U.S. rivalry, where the characters don’t really hate each other, sometimes that’s a little rough. It pains me when, sometimes, you see media pitching a rivalry between two athletes who are actually friends, just for the sake of creating a rivalry.” ..."
Now consider this possibility: What if Phelps races Lochte in two events and beats him? Phelps essentially refuses to leave the pool a defeated champion and Ryan settles for a place within his tall shadow. Subsequently, Phelps can pretend he may swim in Brazil in 2016 and still collect a paycheck. Lochte will be relegated as being the "Matt Biondi" of the sport. A great athlete who was much appreciated but not really known outside swimming circles.
What if Phelps doesn't race him at all? What if Phelps is content to just swim the 100-and-200 'fly and the
IM relays? Four-gold medals easy! Olympic winning streak continues and Phelps is the de facto champion of the Olympics for the next 100-years-or-so. Who will ever be able to score 12-gold 14-gold medals [plus new ones in London if all goes well] in an Olympic career?
For Lochte to be the face of the Olympics he will have to either beat Phelps in more than one event or win no less than seven gold medals.
That's my opinion but i suspect Missy Franklin will steal the show.