It’s a return to golden form for Ryan Lochte at the 2012 Olympic Games…
After two disappointing days, the 27-year-old half-Cuban American swimmer swam the first leg of the men’s 4×200-meter freestyle relay final in 1:45.15 on Tuesday, nearly a second faster than his closest competitor to help the U.S. men coast to gold, winning the race by more than a body’s length.
Lochte had started his run at the 2012 Olympic Games by winning the U.S.’s first gold medal at the London Games in the men’s 400-meter individual medley on Saturday.
But the following night, he was out-raced on the final leg of the men’s 4×100-meter freestyle relay, dropping the Americans to second place. On Monday, he didn’t even make the podium in the 200-meter freestyle final.
In a mere two days, Lochte had gone from the greatest swimmer in the world to someone down on himself.
“The past two days I wasn’t myself,” Lochte admitted Tuesday night. “After that relay my confidence went down. Everyone just kept telling me, ‘You know what? You’re better than that. Just forget about that and move on.’ ”
So Lochte got up Tuesday morning and, for the first time since the games started, didn’t have to rush to the London Aquatics Centre for a morning preliminary heat. He didn’t hit the water at all, which he believes helped him in the men’s 4×200-meter freestyle relay.
“I woke up this morning and I was back to myself,” Lochte said. “I was that happy, go-lucky guy. I think that’s what really helped me throughout the whole day and that swim tonight. Now, I can take that energy and put it into tomorrow’s races.”
Can Lochte’s strong performance in the relay help get his Olympics back on track? He still has to swim the 200-meter backstroke – his specialty – the 200-meter individual medley and likely the medley relay.
Lochte’s teammate Ricky Berens, who contributed to the 4×200 free gold, believes in the momentum that can come from one strong relay swim.
“Being at the Olympics, it’s an individual sport but we’re all so a team,” Berens said. “Having this relay, winning that gold medal, we really had a great, great race. … I saw Michael (Phelps) have a different face on him right now. The way (Phelps and Lochte’s) demeanor is right now, I’m sure this night definitely helped.”