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Commentary by Jeff Commings
PHOENIX, Arizona, July 27. WITH all the media hype and buzz surrounding the rivalry between Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, it's surprising that no one has come up with a word to shrink the two names into one, not just for ease in speaking, but to give this storyline a unique brand that could last long after the two finish racing in London next week.
Many of the combined names in the lexicon are from the romantic union of two people: Brangelina, Bennifer, TomKat. But why not merge two names in a sports rivalry? Don't think it's been done before — though there aren't many sport rivalries that match the magnitude of Lochte and Phelps.
Casey Barrett first used the term “Phelpte” last year in a column on his Cap & Goggles website, and today's edition of The Morning Swim Show features the term “Phelpte”, though we first uttered it by mistake during a taping of our Race Day coverage of the U.S. Olympic Trials about three weeks ago. In her attempt to say “Phelps and Lochte,” Tiffany Elias' brain somehow merged the two into “Phelpte.” We all laughed at it at the time, and didn't really think much of it after that, at least not until we taped today's show.
And by the way, we considered “Lochs,” but that doesn't really roll off the tongue. It makes you hungry for a bagel, not pumped to watch two of the best in history battle in the pool.
I won't lie; I'm hoping “Phelpte” catches on. I hope Dan Hick and Rowdy Gaines use it in their race commentary for NBC. I hope it spills onto the pages of every newspaper and magazine around the world. We hope the Webster's Dictionary makes it an official word. If they can make “bromance” an official word, why not “Phelpte?” And if anyone can be a “Phelps Phan,” can't someone who likes them both equally wear a shirt that says “Team Phelpte”?
The word “Phelpte” never caught on after Barrett wrote his column last September. That could be partly because he debuted the word about two months after the world championships, at a time when the world and even maybe the diehard swimming fan wasn't thinking much about Phelps and Lochte. We're less than eight hours from the first Phelpte race, a perfect time to re-introduce the term to the world.
Just say it a few times, and find out how cool it sounds. Phelpte. Phelpte. Phelpte. It's just so much easier to say than “Phelps and Lochte” or “Lochte and Phelps.” You save a full second on one uttering of the new word, a second you can pay forward somewhere else. Tell your swim coach “Thanks coach!” after workout. Tell your parents “Thanks Mom and Dad” for all those years of carpooling you to practice and meets. Take an extra deep breath before your next big race.
Jeff Commings has had a few rivalries in his swimming career, and can think of some cool names for those, but they are not as awesome as “Phelpte.” You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.