LONDON — Last year in Shanghai, Ryan Lochte not only beat Michael Phelps in the 200-meter individual medley, he set the world record, 1:54 flat. Phelps wasn’t in his best shape. Even so, he said he felt himself on the last lap gaining, gaining, gaining. It wasn’t enough.
He knew then that if he wanted to be serious about swimming, serious about this grueling and demanding event in particular, he had to get his backside into the cold pool early in the morning and re-dedicate himself to being the champion he was and could yet be again.
In Lochte, Phelps figured he drew a rival as formidable as one could find, a man who not only could but would test Phelps physically but mentally. Many people on the pool deck might be afraid of Michael Phelps. Ryan Lochte assuredly was not.
The test of will, stamina and strength came down to this Thursday at the Aquatic Center: Who wanted it more?
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