Last year U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte won five gold medals at the world swimming championships in Shanghai and was widely considered the world’s best swimmer.
On Thursday the 27-year-old said that he was still not satisfied with what he achieved in China.
“I knew I was capable of going faster,” he said. “I think that is the edge that I have over all other swimmers — over the past three years I have gone faster.” He said that after the Beijing Olympics in 2008 he had developed a four-year plan.
“There were a number of baby steps and I completed each task. In Shanghai I was not happy. I thought I could go a lot faster, I knew I could go much faster,” Lochte said.
“But now I am in way better shape than I have ever been. I have done more yardage than I have ever done and I know that I am ready.”
Lochte, who won two gold medals and two bronze medals in Beijing four years ago, said he was determined to win in London. “At this point of the game, if you lose you better not be happy.
“You should be going in to win; I am not going in for silver or bronze. Shanghai was just a little appetiser. This is what I have been working for. I know I am going to be a lot faster.” One of his main rivals will be teammate and friend Michael Phelps, with whom he goes head-to-head in the first medal race on Saturday — the 400m individual medley.
Lochte said he did not watch Phelps too closely. “I don’t really watch him. If I did that I would be a nervous wreck. I look at myself and I goof off in the pool.”
Asked to describe the difference between himself and Phelps, Lochte said that he would describe himself outside the pool as an energetic, go with the flow kind of guy.
“Phelps is more the straight arrow, serious kind of guy.” Lochte said that he started changing his training in early 2009 and has been doing strongman competition workouts since then.
“It gives me a confidence boost, knowing that I can achieve my goals. I know that no other swimmer is doing that. It gives me an edge.” Lochte enjoys swimming in the relays. “Individually you are swimming for yourself, but you are also swimming for your country.
After the games he will take a break. “I will take a deep breath and relax and take some times off. The most time I have had off is a week and a half. I want to take a break for some two weeks and get my mind ready.
“But I will continue swimming,” Lochte said. “I am having a blast and I will be around for four years.” Asked whether he or Phelps could be considered the all-time greatest swimmer, Lochte was not prepared to answer.
“I don’t know how you will decide who is the greatest swimmer of all times,” he said. “There are so many different events and swimmers it is hard to decide.” But if Lochte can win all his races, he will take another baby step toward becoming, at the very least, one of the best swimmers of all-time.