The U.S. swim team has been a dominant force in the men’s 4x200m Freestyle Relay, ever since Athens 2004, and will target a fifth consecutive gold medal in the event during Wednesday’s morning session at the Tokyo Aquatics Center.
Although, this time around, they’ll have to do it without Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte.
It just doesn’t seem possible – a 4×200 squad without Phelps and Lochte? An American 4×200 team without this dynamic duo in the pool is like, well, going to an Italian restaurant that doesn’t offer pizza and pasta on the menu.
Phelps has been a member of the past four U.S. gold medal winning relay teams dating to Athens 2004, while Lochte the previous three dating to Beijing 2008. Naturally, anyone who has ever set foot in a swimming pool knows Phelps.
Lochte isn’t far behind, if not for his great accomplishments, then perhaps for a certain gas station incident five years ago.
The world’s greatest swimmer finally retired for good after the Rio Games, having won five more gold medals in Brazil, and is now commentating for NBC Sports in Tokyo. The 36-year-old Lochte called it quits after failing to qualify for the Tokyo Games at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials in June.
Five years ago in Rio, Lochte and Phelps swam 3-4 in the event, cruising to an American victory by nearly 3.5 seconds over their nearest challengers Great Britain.
The team, including Conor Dwyer and Townley Haas, erupted in euphoric celebration as the ‘Baltimore Bullet’ touched the wall to win the 20th of his 23 career Olympic gold medals.
As one might expect, Phelps and Lochte, along with U.S. teammates Peter Vanderkaay and Ricky Berens, are the current Olympic records holders in the event having clocking a 6:58.56 at Beijing 2008, en route to their second of four gold medals in the streak.
In Tokyo, the U.S. team is comprised of less than household names. The unheralded foursome includes Drew Kibler, Andrew Seliskar, Patrick Callan, and Blake Pieroni. They’ll enter the pool as the fifth fastest qualifiers, nearly two and a half seconds slower than favorite Great Britain.
A record fifth consecutive gold medal may be a tall order, but one thing is certain, Phelps and Lochte will be urging them on every meter of the pool.
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