Lochte: 400 IM Fits With Current Mindset - For Now
By Bob Schaller//Correspondent
A lot of forces come into play in the arc of a long-time swimmer.
Especially when you are among the best all-time in the world.
Some shorten the load to events at no more than 100 meters. Others hope to find speed and focus on making the two events that take six for relays to the Olympics, the 100 free and 200 free. Others just climb down from 400s to 200s or 200s to 100s.
However, that’s not the case for Ryan Lochte, who has pondered many times breaking up with the 400 IM, only to have the race in which he earned gold at London in 2012 come back into his field of view.
“I just haven’t done that race in forever,” said Lochte, the long-time Florida Gator who successfully sought a change of pace with David Marsh at SwimMAC. “After 2012, I thought I was just going to hang that event up. I love the challenge, and with my training I have been doing a lot of mid-distance stuff, not working on my sprint at all.”
Someone asked him right after he won at the Arena Pro Series in Austin if he swims the 400 IM because he’s so good at it he can almost pencil it in as a win.
“I don’t swim it because I can win -- I like the challenge,” Lochte said. “As I get older, it becomes a bigger challenge for me, and I love that.”
In Austin, Lochte dropped six seconds from his time in prelims and ran away with the race over a talented field that featured Chase Kalisz, Josh Prenot and Tyler Clary, who finished second, third and fourth, respectively.
Lochte won the race at 4:12.66, two seconds better than second place. . And it caught the attention of another famous teammate.
“I told Ryan in the morning he would go 4:12 at night,” Michael Phelps said. “He knows how to swim that race really well.”
Locthe’s love for the 400 IM ebbs and flows, but never dissipates. While it’s also good for endurance, it forces Lochte to think his way through all four strokes it encompasses.
“You can’t be good at (just) one stroke,” Lochte said. “You have to be good at every stroke. I love training for every stroke.”
He was smiling talking about it, dimples and everything. He must really have fun with the 400 IM, right?
“No, I don’t enjoy it - it’s one of the hardest races still, and it doesn’t get any easier, especially as you get older,” said Lochte, the eldest at 31 of the 30-plus year old trio that includes Phelps and Matt Grevers.
Whether it’s as a measuring stick or something that will stick in his event list, Loche is unsure. But it has a place in his swim conscience, so he’s not writing off another 400 IM in competition.
“You know going that time, where I am at now in my training, I am actually looking at maybe doing it again,” Lochte said.
He was in full smile as the next thought crept into his head and out his mouth.
“But,” Lochte said, “it hurts so bad.”
Still, 4:12 at this point? Insane. Still a champion after winning the event in the most recent Olympics. Count Lochte out? No one who saw his dominating effort in Austin would write him off if he enters the 400 IM again…and again and again..
“I’m hanging in there,” Lochte said.
Phelps good-naturedly encouraged Lochte not give up the 400 IM, even though Phelps himself doesn’t have it on his docket.
“I told him if you win it at the Olympics you have to swim at the next Trials at least - that’s the rule,” Phelps said with a smile.
Lochte in the 400m IM
||World Championships LC
||World Championships SC
||Mutual of Omaha Duel in the Pool
|Gold- London (2012)
Bronze- Beijing (2008)
|Gold- Shanghai (2011)
Gold- Rome (2009)
Silver- Melbourne (2007)
|Gold- Dubai (2010)
Gold- Manchester (2008)
Gold- Shanghai (2006)
|Gold- Irvine (2010)
||Gold- Indianapolis (2015)
Gold- Atlanta (2011)