Former Florida Gators star and 11-time Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte is looking to add to his historic medal count in the 2016 Rio Games, but at this point the most decorated Olympian of all time is not.
But Lochte, for what it’s worth, does not believe the retirement of 22-time medal winner Michael Phelps will last. Phelps announced that the 2012 London Olympics would be his final swimming competition and, thus far at least, he has stuck to his guns.
Speaking in Vancouver, where he is set to swim at a local meet, Lochte told the Indo-Asian News Service that not only would he like to see his rival get back in the water, but that he expects it to happen.
“Michael Phelps is the hardest racer I ever went up against, and what he’s done for this sport of swimming is tremendous,” he said. “I hope he comes back in. I think he will. I know he will. It’s just a matter of time and when. I know he will.
At only 27 years old, Phelps is not exactly over the hill physically. However, training to compete against and beat the very best every four years takes a toll on one’s body that 99.9-percent of the rest of the world will never understand.
But Phelps’ influence on the sport has been to “tremendous,” as Lochte put it, that it is not easily quantified. Rekindling his rivalry with the 28-year old Lochte in Rio would provide swimmers worldwide one last chance to see the greatest that ever lived get after it one last time.
While Lochte has not spoken to Phelps directly, he believes the itch to compete (against Lochte in particular) will eventually become too much for Phelps to ignore.
“I can’t say. I just have a feeling. I’ll just leave it at that. I have a feeling he’ll come back,” he said, adding that the sport would be better with Phelps’s return.
“Racing him (Phelps) was one of the biggest challenges in my swimming career and I loved it. I’ve gotten to the point where it was one of his biggest challenges too and just the friendship that we’ve developed throughout the years of racing each other and the rivalry it’s one of the biggest in the sport and we had a lot of fun doing it. So I definitely hope he comes back because in a way he pushed me and I pushed him. So it was definitely great for the sport,” he said.
Not to mention great for fans watching at homes and bars nation and worldwide.
[H/T: NBC OlympicTalk]