Ryan Lochte Wins 12th Career Olympic Medal, Passes Mark Spitz for Second All-Time in Men’s Swimming

Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

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Ryan Lochte helped the U.S. team win gold in the men’s 800 free relay Tuesday night, teaming with Conor Dwyer, Townley Haas and Michael Phelps to come in more than two seconds ahead of the rest of the field in 7:00.66.

The gold medal was the 12th of Lochte’s career, moving him past Mark Spitz as the second most-decorated male Olympic swimmer of all time. Lochte, 32, has won six gold, three silver and three bronze medals in four Olympic Games. Only Phelps, with 25 medals (21 gold, two silver and two bronze) has more.

Four of the six gold medals have come as part of the American 800 free relay team. Lochte has amazingly been on the U.S. quarter that has swum in the finals at every Olympics, World Championships and Pan Pacs for the past 13 years, going back to the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

In that race in Athens, Klete Keller memorably held off Australia’s Ian Thorpe at the very end to start a U.S. win streak that lasted until last summer’s World Championships, when a depleted American squad fell to Great Britain and a charging James Guy on the anchor leg.

“We just wanted to keep the tradition alive,” Lochte said. “Everyone did their part, but we couldn’t have done it without those three other guys this morning to really get us going and get us a good lane for tonight. We owe it to them. We wanted to defend that title, and that’s what we did.”

Lochte returns to the pool in this morning’s prelims for his only individual event of the Games, the 200 IM. Lochte is the four-time reigning World Champion in the event—he is only one of two men to win four straight World titles in any event—but he has never won Olympic gold, taking silver in 2004, bronze in 2008 and silver again in 2012. Phelps won gold in each of those races.

“I’m just going to warm-down, get good rest, and tomorrow’s a new day,” Lochte said. “So hopefully we can keep this ball rolling and have a good time.”

1 Comment

1 comment

  1. avatar

    How can you compare the records of a swimmer evolving in an amateurish world and could swim only twice at the olympic games and an old pro being at his third or fourth olympic games and say that he passed Mark Spitz? What that means? Is Lochte better than Spitz. And what mean the relay medals? Very unfair.

Author: David Rieder

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David Rieder is a staff writer for Swimming World. He has contributed to the magazine and website since 2009, and he has covered the NCAA Championships, U.S. Nationals, Olympic Trials as well as the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and the 2017 World Championships in Budapest. He is a native of Charleston, S.C., and a 2016 graduate of Duke University.

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