Ryan Lochte is between a rock and a hard place: if he beats Superfish, he's ruined the biggest run on Mark Spitz and all of that, if he loses, he lives his life in the shadow of the great one (to some extent).
Not, of course, that Lochte sees it that way. A gold medal hope in the 200m and 400m medley (as well as the 200m backstroke against reigning champion Aaron Peirsol), Lochte was asked here in Beijing today if he would mind being seen as gatecrasher at Phelps's party in the pool. He said: 'I wouldn't mind at all. I wish him all the best, he is my friend, but if he doesn't do it, it means I did something right.'
Asked his opinion about Laszlo Cseh, Lochte praised the Hungarian as a worthy opponent and said of the medley races in general: 'There's going to be a big battle. It's going to be a lot of fun.'
Lochte got within 0.8sec of Phelps over 400m at US Olympic trials and believes he can step up again. 'I feel that if we go together into the breaststroke (leg) I'll come out ahead. I'm very confident with my breaststroke. The things that I've been working on is my stroke going into the wall and my turn, they've got to be amazing.'
The 400m is first up, with heats this Saturday and final Sunday morning. Phelps would be the target, Lochte said. 'I like to fly under the radar. Everyone is chasing after him but I'm, like, in my own room. If you look at him, he knows what he's doing and he knows what he's capable of doing. But when I stand up there, I want to win. I'm also confident of winning. That's the way I was brought up.'