Defending Olympic gold medalist Ryan Lochte announced today at the pre-Trials press conference that he will be contesting the 400 IM in Omaha on Sunday.
Swim fans have been speculating for the past quadrennial whether Lochte would stick with this event or if he’d drop it in favor of a lighter program now that he’s on the other side of 30. Lochte, who is 31 currently and will turn 32 a few days before the swim program begins in Rio, seemed to step back from the event after 2012. However, it looked like it was more of a focus with his swims at both the Austin and Charlotte Pro Series stops this year. His time of 4:12.66 from Austin gives him the 4th seed for this event at Trials, although his best time is the 4:05.18 he recorded in winning gold in London.
Lochte alluded to the fact that age has taken its toll. In response to a question about the biggest difference between this Trials and his first, Lochte identified the increased need for recovery between events as the biggest difference in his view.
Asked why he’s swimming the 400 IM, when he knows it’ll take a toll on him, Lochte responded, “[Dropping the event to focus on other events] wouldn’t be fun. For me, fun is a challenge. I love having a challenge. The 400 IM, especially with how old I am, how fast other swimmers are, it’ll definitely be a challenge.”
Coach David Marsh followed that up by explaining that Lochte has four great strokes that work better for him at 400 IM speed than at the speeds the individuals 100s are swum at. Marsh also noted that Lochte has an amazing physiological ability to recover.
Asked about his biggest competitors, Lochte declined to mention any specific opponents, but said “You have to be tough. You have to be able to train. I think my biggest opponent will be myself…if my mindset is right, I will definitely do really well.”
To earn a spot in Rio in this event, Lochte will to square off against veteran Tyler Clary, who finished 3rd here four years ago, Chase Kalisz, world championships medalist in this event, and several other young stars still in, or just out of, college, including Josh Prenot, Jay Litherland, and Gunnar Bentz, among others.
Also from the press conference:
- Marsh and Lochte both explained how their flight to Omaha was diverted, and the SwimMac team ended up practicing in the lap lanes
- Neither Lochte nor Marsh would go into more detail on what Lochte would or would not swim, but they did mention that Lochte did a 100 back in 57.1 from a push during warmups today.