3 Reasons Why Ryan Lochte Will be a Factor at the United States Olympic Trials

Ryan Lochte

3 Reasons Why Ryan Lochte Will be a Factor at the United States Olympic Trials

A recent Swimming World column by David Rieder examined the chances of Ryan Lochte qualifying for a fifth Olympic Games. The analysis conducted by Rieder suggested two primary points: 1) Although he was a 2016 Olympian, Lochte has not been himself for years. 2) If Lochte qualifies for this summer’s Games in Tokyo, that result would not be a good sign for the United States.

Although he is expected to contest multiple events at the United States Olympic Trials next month in Omaha, Lochte’s Olympic hopes likely hinge on what he can do in the 200-meter individual medley. It is the event in which Lochte is the world-record holder and three-time Olympic medalist, and the discipline best supports the 36-year-old’s versatility and skills over all four strokes.

Whether looking at the last few years or the last few months, there are not a lot of reasons to include Lochte in the category of Tokyo favorite for Trials. Rather, the future Hall of Fame best fits the category of outside contender. Still, we are talking about an athlete who has been a major factor for Team USA for nearly two decades. Could he turn a final magic trick in Omaha?

Here are three reasons why Lochte has a chance at Trials.

1. Mr. Taper

Seriously, when in Lochte’s career has he been known for producing impressive times during the middle of the season? Never. Midseason speed has never been a trademark of Lochte, who has spent most of his days in the pool beaten down by the training program of longtime coach Gregg Troy. As has been the case in recent months, Lochte is best known – when racing in Pro Series action – for producing ho-hum times.

But, when it is time for a Big Show, Lochte has typically reacted positively to his taper. His body craves rest and significant time drops have always been the norm for the University of Florida product. Yes, his age might suggest those drops will not be as dramatic as in the past, but to think Lochte will not be considerably faster at Trials is to ignore history.

2. Experience

When Lochte climbs onto the blocks in Omaha, some of his main challengers will be teenagers who were still in diapers when he made his first Olympic team in 2004. The Olympic Games included, there is no bigger-pressure meet in the world than the U.S. Trials, where a third-place finish will leave an Olympic-medal contender at home. Nerves are always present.

The experience Lochte carries, ranging from his previous Trials visits to his Olympic success, can only serve as a benefit. The veteran is wise enough to understand every minute detail of the qualifying process, and it is a guarantee that Lochte will rely on his knowledge and the fact that he has been there before. Will it be enough? That answer is uncertain. Nonetheless, experience can never be discounted.

3. This Is It

As an athlete in his mid-30s, Lochte is on borrowed time, a fact that is not lost on the 12-time Olympic medalist. He has spoken frequently about his priority of being a great husband and father, but he also wants to go out on a high note. The late Kobe Bryant capped his NBA career with a spectacular, 60-point night. Lochte could do the same by punching a ticket to Tokyo.

There is an old cliché that says an athlete backed into a corner is dangerous. Lochte fits that mold. He is not expected to earn a slot on the Team USA roster for this Olympics, but maybe he’ll emerge from the CHI Health Center with a stunning triumph. It would certainly rate as an all-time moment in Trials history, and it would be met with major excitement by fans of the sport.