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Phelps vs Lochte Who Will Win More Medals?

Posted by D.S. Williamson on 7/24/2012 7:05:33 PM

Michael Phelps vs Ryan Lochte.  That appears to be the story at the 2012 Olympics.  The two fastest men in the water will face each other in only two events, the 200 and 400 individual medleys after Phelps decided to drop the 200 freestyle.  But, there’s more to this rivalry than just the head to head events in the pool in London.  At the World Championships in 2011, Ryan Lochte beat Michael Phelps two out of three.  Phelps turned the tables at the Olympic Trials, beating Lochte in three out of four events.

Since the two mermen are battling head to head only twice at the Olympics, the biggest question isn’t who will win the individual matchups, but who will win the most medals.

Let’s attempt to answer that question right now.

The Case for Michael Phelps

Phelps is in seven events - - Phelps is in seven events at the 2012 Olympics.  Sure, he won’t have a shot to win eight gold medals like he did in the 2008 Olympics, but seven isn’t bad, right?  Actually, it’s freakin’ great!  Only one other swimmer is likely to participate in seven events like Phelps and that’s Missy Franklin, who’s a woman.

Phelps dominated Lochte at the Olympic Trials - - Sure, Lochte raced well, but Phelps was undeniably much better than Lochte in Omaha last month.  He stuck it to Lochte in three out of the four head to head events.  Phelps is definitely on the upswing and that could mean trouble for Lochte.

He’s, uh, Michael Phelps, people - - Before we start singing the praises of Ryan Lochte, we must remember that Michael Phelps won eight, that’s right, eight medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and, lest we forget, they were all gold medals.  Phelps is, arguably, the most dominant Olympic athlete to ever come out of the United States.  The man is a beast.

The Case for Ryan Lochte

Lochte is in five events, two against Phelps - - Ryan Lochte is in five events at the Olympics:  400m IM, 200m free, 200m back, 200m IM, 4 x 200m free relay.  Sure, Lochte is swimming in two less events than Phelps, but if he beats Phelps straight up in the two events where they face each other, Phelps is going to have to win gold in his other five events and some of those are relays, so if Phelps wins gold, so does Lochte.

Lochte is driven this year - - The man is a tireless worker.  He firmly believes that the 2012 Olympics will be his time to shine.  It’s tough to beat a guy who believes so highly of himself and has the chops to back it up.

Besides the Olympic Trials, Lochte has been the best swimmer in the world - - Lochte has four world records and, before the Olympic Trials, had two victories out of three head to head matchups versus Michael Phelps.  It can be argued that Ryan Lochte is the best swimmer in the world since 2009 and is the best swimmer in the world right now. 

The Bottom Line

Although there’s no doubt that Ryan Lochte is an amazing athlete, the signs are pointing to Lochte having a rather normal Olympics.  Oh, he will win some gold medals, but it’s doubtful that he takes home more gold than Michael Phelps. 

Anybody who saw Lochte in the pool at the Olympic Trials knows that he’s probably more tired than he should be going to London.  The man looked gassed in the 100m freestyle, where he finished fourth.  He even told Andrea Kremer that he didn’t “feel 100%”.  In addition, Lochte, by almost everybody’s admission, raced in more than his share of events since 2008.  Could it be that Lochte is tired?  Maybe.

But, the real reason why Michael Phelps will win more medals than Ryan Lochte at the 2012 Olympics is because Michael Phelps is simply the bigger athlete.  At 6’ 2”, Lochte isn’t a small man.  Lochte weighs 185 lbs, but he’s built more like a compact running back than Phelps who is built like a long, lean wide receiver.

It’s as if Ray Rice was taking on Calvin Johnson in the swimming pool.  Because the guy who touches the wall first wins, Phelps’s advantage is clear.  He’s the taller man with the amazing 79” wingspan while Lochte is the smaller, stronger man who most likely will become tired quicker than the taller man as the Olympics go on.

Phelps’s physical advantage, as well as the fact that he’s been in this position before, as the star of the show, should lead him to numerous goals at the 2012 Olympics.  Ryan Lochte, as good as he has been since 2009, may be on the downturn and that’s on top of the fact that Phelps physically overwhelms him.  If Lochte is on the downturn, he won’t touch Phelps’s gold medal count.  

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