American Men Swimming Upstream In Medal Race

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The latest results and what's coming up at the Olympic swimming pool in London — including another shot at Olympic history for American Michael Phelps, and a missed medal for his teammate Ryan Lochte.


There are a lot of surprise splashes in the Olympic pool, as well. China has won five medals, France has three gold - two of them at the expense of American swimming star Ryan Lochte. He and Michael Phelps were the headliners coming into the men's swim competition in London. Were is the key word here, as NPR's Tom Goldman reports.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Last night's men's 200-meter freestyle race at the Olympic Aquatic Center was Ryan Lochte's shot at revenge. The day before Yannick Agnel, a 20-year-old French torpedo, caught and passed Lochte at the end of a relay race, leaving a stunned American team in second place. Lochte and Agnel went head-to-head again last night. When it was over, it was more like Lochte's head to Agnel's feet, which were way in front at the finish - revenge denied. Agnel won a second gold. Lochte took the dreaded, out-of-the-medals fourth place. His teammate and rival Michael Phelps didn't swim the race, but talked about it.

MICHAEL PHELPS: A race like that is tough to come off of, but, you know, Ryan I know is a very good racer, and he's a champion. You know, he's going to be able to build off of that and put a lot of energy and focus into his races coming throughout the meet.

GOLDMAN: Soothing words for a fourth-place finisher. Now, where did we hear that before?

RYAN LOCHTE: You know what, Michael, still, to me, he is one of the world's greatest. And no matter what happens, he will always go down as one of the greatest. And I know he gave it 110 percent. And honestly, that's all you can really ask for.

GOLDMAN: That was Lochte Saturday night, offering soothing words for fourth-place Phelps, who'd just gotten dusted by Lochte in the 400 individual medley. So what are the sure-thing, can't-miss swimming studs of London doing finishing races in fourth place? Well, first of all, Olympic hype is very dangerous, because there really aren't sure-thing, can't-miss athletes when the world's absolute best convene. Are you listening, Usain Bolt?

And second, it's still early enough for them to live up to the hype - for Phelps, as soon as today. In fact, on a career built on memorable Olympic days, this could be right up there. He's swimming the 200-meter butterfly and four-by-200-meter freestyle relay. A medal in both is likely. If it happens, he passes Larisa Latynina, a gymnast for the former Soviet Union, who won a record 18 Olympic medals. If Phelps wins 18 and 19 tonight, becoming the most decorated Olympian ever, no need for any soothing words from Lochte or anyone else. Tom Goldman, NPR News, London.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from