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July 18, 2012  | by: Natalia Weiner

Daniel Berehulak / Getty Images

At the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Michael Phelps couldn’t be beat; eight gold medals and he is back again to defend his titles in London. But there is someone hot on his tail, Ryan Lochte, six time Olympic medalist (three gold, two silver, one bronze) who claimed the first spot in this year’s Olympic trials, ensuring his position on the London team. Phelps came in as a close second, but the fact that he came in second at this most important meet ignited this sizzling rivalry once again, as people wait anxiously not just to see if the United States snags the gold in swimming at these Olympic Games, but who of the American team comes out on top.

Lochte came back stronger this time than he had been at the previous Games. “I can sit down and take a deep breath and relax. I can just do what I love to do and have fun and just race,” commented Lochte after securing his spot. Despite this humble statement he came in at 4 minutes and 7.06 seconds, beating Phelps 4 minutes and 7.89 seconds which broke a streak of nine consecutive losses since 2002. But Lochte’s humility is infallible. He comments, “”It really doesn’t say much. It’s a rivalry that we’ve had for almost eight years now. We’ve just been switching back and forth. It’s hard to say who’s the best swimmer because we’re both great racers.”

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Lochte’s first major win over Phelps was in 2010 in the 200m IM. He then began to skyrocket, winning over Phelps again and again; a feat that was once considered to be near impossible. Lochte beat Phelps in the 200m backstroke, at the 2010 nationals. In that race, Phelps finished way behind, in fourth place. But Lochte’s most incredible moment occurred at the 2011 World Championships, where he not only beat Phelps twice but secured a world record time. It appears that Lochte might take Phelps title as America’s Golden Boy this year at the 2012 London Olympics.

Phelps Pride fell out of fashion when he was caught with a marijuana pipe in early 2009. This cost him a 3 month suspension by USA swimming and a major endorsement deal with Kellogg. “Michael’s most recent behavior is not consistent with the image of Kellogg,” stated Susanne Norwitz, a spokesperson for the company. Now, Phelps has a deal with Subway restaurants, as do many other athletes in the Olympic Games. What Phelps really did ruin was the clean cut image that all associate with Olympic athletes. Also, considering how big Phelps wins were and how high he was on the totem pole, it was a far fall.

Phelps had the talent, which is what made him famous. But Lochte has the talent and a personality to match. His humility, intelligence and professionalism certainly puts his strokes ahead of Phelps. But we will all have to watch what happens at the London Games to see who comes out on top.

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