Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte have one of the most famous sports rivalries of all times. They’ve been competing in the Olympics as a team and as rivals in 2004, and will compete against each other in the upcoming 200m individual medley in Rio. Phelps and Lochte have produced the 13 fastest times in the history of the event, according to the Washington Post. This will probably be the end of their friendly rivalry, as Phelps vows to retire after the 2016 Olympics.
Now they’re both 31, have both shattered world records, and have a total of 33 Olympic medals between the two of them. Here’s what you need to know about their heated rivalry.
1. They Credit Each Other for Upping the Ante in the Pool
Both swimmers feed off each others’ skills. Phelps told the Los Angeles Times that they “bring each other to a different level.”
“I don’t know if there’s another person in the world who I race who brings out the best in me like he does,” Phelps told the Los Angeles Times.
“We push each other. That challenge of getting on the blocks and racing against him is a thrill so I’m definitely looking forward to doing that again [in Rio].
The Washington Post reported that Lochte said they “feed off each other.” He continued, “Being able to race against Michael is definitely an honor. It’ll be fun.”
2. They’ve Both Gone Through Party Phases
Who wins in the party department? It’s hard to tell. Both swimmers are known for their wild streaks. Both Lochte and Phelps have been spotted partying and taking shots in Las Vegas, E! reported.
According to E! Phelps was arrested for DUI in September 2014. It was his second arrest for the same reason in 10 years, which led him to check-in to a rehab facility for treatment.
Lochte has been called a “party boy” known for cozying up to Playboy Playmates. His short lived E! reality show What Would Ryan Lochte Do? portrayed him as a frat boy, without putting emphasis on his swimming.
“I’m not going to lie, it was amazing,” Lochte told USA Today of the show.
If you’re a swimmer, you don’t go to a red carpet event for a movie premiere. You’re not hanging out with Sylvester Stallone. You’re like, ‘What am I doing? This is unbelievable.’ I never thought swimming would take me that far.
According to USA Today, Lochte regrets the side of him the show revealed; the frat boy, and not the swimmer. “You can say I’m a party boy, whatever, but I don’t care.”
3. They’re Rivalry Began in 2004
Phelps has been competing in the Olympics since 2000, but Lochte joined him in 2004 in Athens. They competed against each other in the men’s 200 meter individual medley, which Michael Phelps won gold in, while Lochte placed silver.
This is also the first time they swam together as a team. They competed together in the men’s 4 × 200 meter freestyle relay, in which they won gold for the U.S.
They’ve competed in the 2008, 2012, and now the 2016 Olympics against and with each other, and in many non Olympics competitions like the world championships
4. They’re Good Friends Outside the Pool
They say friends make the best enemies, and these two definitely keep their friends close and their enemies closer. While they have one of the best sports rivalries of all time, Lochte promises it’s all friendly on dry land. “It’s really good, we’re really good friends outside the swimming pool. That’s why our rivalry is so great,” he said in an interview with WHEC News 10.
“Being able to race against Michael is definitely an honor.”
5. Lochte Has Never Beat Phelps in the Olympics
Lochte has about half the amount of medals as Phelps.
According to SportingNews, however, “if it wasn’t for Michael Phelps, American swimmer Ryan Lochte would be the most decorated male swimmer in Olympic history.”
Lochte has only beat Phelps once in their Olympic careers, that was in London in 2012 in the men’s 400 meter individual medley. Lochte came in first, and Phelps didn’t even place, coming in fourth. Lochte has beat Phelps in other races, like the world championships, but never again in the many times they’ve raced against each other in the Olympics.