We Shouldn’t Ignore Ryan Lochte’s Remarkable Career Because Of Michael Phelps

Lochte’s closing in on becoming the second-greatest swimmer ever and no one’s talking about it.

With U.S. swimmers Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky garnering so much of our collective attention, it’s easy to forget that there’s another American out there who is quietly becoming one of the winningest Olympians of all time.

That would be Ryan Lochte, who could become the second-most-decorated swimmer — and tie as the fourth-most-decorated athlete in Olympic history — with a potential medal performance in the 200-meter individual medley on Thursday. 

Lochte is currently tied with American swimmers Jenny Thompson, Dara Torres and Natalie Coughlin, who each have 12 Olympic medals. A 13th top-three showing would break that tie, moving Lochte into second place among Olympic swimmers behind ― who else? ― Michael Phelps.

Across all sports, a spot on the podium would tie Lochte for fourth in the all-time medal count. Nos. 2 and 3 are Soviet gymnasts Larisa Latynina and Nikolai Andrianov, respectively. The No. 1 Olympic medal winner of all time is, again, Michael Phelps.

Phelps (left) and Lochte celebrate gold at the 2016 Olympic games. 
Phelps (left) and Lochte celebrate gold at the 2016 Olympic games. 

Clearly, having a swimming career overlap with Phelps has its pros and cons. Phelps and Lochte have now swum together at the 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympic games to claim gold in the 4x200-meter freestyle relay. On the other hand, Lochte missed out on several golds after finishing second to the legendary Phelps.

The teammates are also scheduled to face off in the 200-meter individual medley, with preliminary heats happening Wednesday afternoon. But let’s not forget to give Lochte some credit where credit is due. 

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