Ryan Lochte Says Michael Phelps will Return for 2016 Rio Olympics

  37 Gold Medal Mel Stewart | December 12th, 2012 | International, News

According to the Telegraph, 11-time Olympic medalist, Ryan Lochte, says 22-time Olympic medalist, Michael Phelps, will return to competition by the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

”Michael Phelps says he’s retired. The sport will miss him, he is one of my favourite rivals and I will miss him. But I think he will come back,” Lochte said. ”When you do something for so long every day … he’s still young. I think he will be back for Rio,” Lochte added. ”We’ll see, he’ll miss the sport.”

Phelps has been adamant he’s done, despite several close swimming peers predicting he’ll come back. Many of these Olympic brothers and sister haven’t gone on the record. They’ve shared their opinions in private, at the fall parties and numerous awards shows following the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

Other Olympians have gone on the record, publically, like Dara Torres. After she barely missed making the 2012 Olympic Team, she tweeted Phelps wouldn’t stay retired, and asked her followers, “anyone care to wager?” Phelps replied that he would take that bet. 

Anthony Ervin, who, like Torres, came out of retirement, tweeted, if Phelps doesn’t come back, “I’ll eat my fins.”

Bottom-line, Lochte’s far from alone in his opinion.

Something many Olympians know — and many fans understand — is that most athletes suffer retirement blues. This is a fact, no matter how successful an athlete has been. In retirement they go through a period of depression. Adjusting to normal life is not easy. The struggle is physical and chemical. Your body changes dramatically when you stop training 10 to 15 sessions per week. The daily “high” from pushing yourself to the extreme is not something you expect to suffer withdrawal from, but you do. Moreover, the singular goal of reaching a personal best time is replaced by slightly “fuzzier” goals (though just as important), like career milestones, simply staying healthy, and giving back to your family and community.

Phelps appears to be on the right path to make a smooth transition into his post Olympic life, feeding his competitive spirit with golf, focusing on his Foundation to giveback to the sport he loves. It appears he’s given retirement a great deal of thought. It appears he’s following a plan.

What keeps everyone guessing, and hoping Phelps will return, is his age. Phelps is still young. No one doubts for a split-second he could add more Olympic hardware to his 22 medal haul in Rio. Then again…no one else in the world has experienced winning so much, and 22 medals may be more than enough for the greatest Olympian of all-time.

Stay tuned…

Ryan Lochte is presently at the FINA Short Course World Championships in Turkey. On day one of prelims he qualifed first in the 200 scm freestyle with a 1:42.41, and first the 100 scm butterfly with a 50.16. 

In This Story


  1. LL says:

    While most everyone would like to see Michael make a “comeback”, he won’t be back. There isn’t even a remote chance. Michael needs to live his life. Swimming for as long as he has without even taking Christmas off, most of the years, is just too much and clearly takes a toll.

    Wish Michael well and let him move on…

  2. MURP says:

    MICHAEL PHELPS COME BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. bobo gigi says:

    Of course if he wanted he would win the 100 fly and 1 or 2 relays in 2016. But would it be useful? He has retired on a superb note with great olympic games and with a win in a relay. What can he expect more? I don’t see.

    • swimfan25 says:

      He’s silly if he tries to come back. Retire on top….what else does he have to prove. I love Natalie Couglin but she went 1 too many Olympics too. I would like to remember Michael being on top…he is the face swimming. Stop while you are ahead!

      • bobo gigi says:

        Totally agree with you! Like Pete Sampras after his US Open win at home in 2002. Michael has retired when he was on top and it’s good like that.

  4. User1 says:

    Dara, Get a life!

  5. swamswim says:

    It would be great to see him back as an NBC color analyst – he is an expert and has good poise in front of the mic….

    • PsychoDad says:

      I don’t think Michael is stupid to come back and swim at Rio. Why? He does not need that attention – he will get the same attention even if he just shows up there. What does he need to prove? The sexy one however, will be swimming at Rio – his inferiority complex is still riding high.

      • swimfan25 says:

        He is driving me nuts….I think you hit the nail on the head with the inferiority complex. He obviously craves the attention.

        • liquidassets says:

          Re: “inferiority complex”: Maybe. Take a look at what he’s been dealing with in terms of family stressors the last couple years and you can maybe see a suggestion of some of the other, earlier roots of that.

          But that alone wouldn’t be enough motivation to explain his current performance. At this point he’s still winning international golds and setting world records, so even though it’s “only” SCM, he’s obviously nowhere near as burned out as Phelps was after ’08, because he didn’t, and still doesn’t, have Phelps schedule. He is likely somewhat disappointed with is London performance and sees potential for improvement in times and places. The challenge will be to keep that going for 4 more years. The closer he gets to Rio, the more he is going to wish he had Phelps around to motivate him. Hopefully, the combined forces of Clary, Grevers, Thoman, Shields, Dwyer, et. al., can provide enough domestic competition and motivation to get him there.

      • Rafael says:

        The “sexy” one in his call for attention might have HUGE problems for gold medaling in Rio.

        He might not be able to pass even the OT on 100 back.. He will have a hard time on 200 with Clary and Irie.

        If he tries Fly.. Le Clos will probably beat him

        On 200 Free he by no means can beat Agnel and Yang..
        On 400 IM Hagino will be pretty much a beast on 2016.

        His best bets would be the 200 IM and 4×100 medley.. even on medley if he were put on the relay it would much more a kind act of the head coachs.. I would not bet on gold on 4×200 and 4×100 without phelps..

  6. Elliot says:

    The guy is done. He needs to rest and live the rest of his life. We don’t want to see the greatest Olympian EVER coming back and embarrassing himself on an International level. Mark Spitz tried that and it was pathetic. Give the guy a break and leave him alone. He wants to live his life.

  7. I think Michael should stay retired and enjoy himself. I don’t know the man at all, but he’s earned his retirement. He can still come back to swimming in some other way — coach? SwimSwam journalist? — should he want to get back in the game and provide lots of value to the sport without having to get back in his Speedo and compete.

    If he really feels the need to compete again without pressure, he should show up to Masters meets. I’d personally rather see Michael at Montreal 2014 than Rio 2016 😉

  8. Anonymous says:

    Let’s watch him play Golf in the first Olympics where golf is a sport! (Rio)

  9. Yeah. but he also says JEAH JEAH JEAH and wears a grill, so…

  10. liquidassets says:

    I forgot to say, also keep in mind that Lochte is older than Phelps and mentally will be looking for all the inspiration he can find to make it through then next quadrennium to Rio. Not that he won’t be facing fierce competition already, but he probably also needs to keep the hope of a Phelps comeback alive for his own sake, since he’ll be 31 or 32 by 2016. I think others have mentioned this, but I also think Lochte was smart to drop the 4 IM for that reason.

    • boo 400im says:

      also the 4im sucks…

      • liquidassets says:

        Quitting the 4IM is almost always the first stepping stone down the far side of a career arc to an eventual retirement– Evans, Sanders, Sandeno, Phelps…. now Lochte. And who can blame them? Will be interesting to see if Beisel quits the 4IM after Rio or continues in Energizer Bunny mode.

  11. liquidassets says:

    If you really want Phelps to unretire, then we should leave him alone. He is stubborn, hates to lose bets, and might stay retired just to prove everyone wrong! 😉 Related to this, my own opinion is that he currently believes he is permanently retired and may not even know himself for sure for a couple years whether he wants to come back to swim a couple events in Rio; so there’s no use speculating until at least late 2014 or early 2015 at the earliest.

    And at that point, the only effective way to motivate Phelps to unretire would be to appeal to his U.S. loyalty if the relays are “in trouble” at point, or to make the case that somebody is out to challenge his 18 gold/22 medal count; when there doesn’t appear to be anyone remotely on that horizon.

  12. cynthia curran says:

    Well, if Michael comes back just do the 100 meter freestyle and 100 meter fly, if he comes back sooner the 200’s, a Mark Spitz schedule.

  13. Jam-t says:

    I will predict that he will at least swim the US trials in 2016 and will qualify in at least 2 events.

  14. Philip Johnson says:

    I hope Phelps comes back! The US could use him on the relays!

  15. aswimfan says:

    This is not so much news.
    Even I, a lay person, already predicted that Phelps would un-retire for Rio the same minute Phelps announced he would retire after London.

    • Braden Keith says:

      aswimfan, glad you’re back! Where have you been??

    • Gold Medal Mel Stewart says:

      ASWIMFAN….what Phelps does to prepare is painful. Toward the end of your career, going to practice (getting up early every day to get wet) is a huge challenge. If you’re not 100% committed, it doesn’t work, and/or you’re criticized harshly (like he was between 2009-2011). Consider (and Phelps knows this) that he can go to Rio in 2016 and actually make more money as a Legend (a retired star), traveling from venue to venue in a limo, getting nothing but appreciation. Simply put, life is easy. Going back to compete is not only challenging, he’s also risking a lot. Popov and Thorpe are examples that come to mind. Staying too long in the Olympic “game” actually hurts your Olympic status…if you don’t perform up to the standards fans expect… That’s why I’m 50-50 on this. Biz-wise, Phelps would be risking a lot with 2016 run. As a fan, however, I would love to see him compete in Rio.

    • Justin Thompson says:

      Dude is done…he didn’t even want to be a guest at the SC Worlds. He’s going to be so far out of shape in two years that he won’t be able to come back. Just look at Thorpe.

  16. As he often tells us, “Listen to Ryan Lochte.” I think he’s right on this one, actually.

    • Gold Medal Mel Stewart says:

      I thought Phelps would comeback (thought it all year), but I’m 50-50 now. Phelps appears to be very happy in retirement and that’s the biggest indicator of whether or not he will return. We’ll know a lot more Jan 2015…

      • Ben says:

        Even if we restrict ourselves to just talking about Olympians, I think most of them after they finish–no matter how well it went–think back and wonder if they could have gotten another medal or that gold or silver instead of the bronze or even just a better time. (whatever the case may be). I think after Beijing Phelps truly left nothing on the table and would argue he’s the only one ever to have “truly” done that. I think that will make it easier for him to retire (unfortunately).

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About Gold Medal Mel Stewart

Gold Medal Mel Stewart

MEL STEWART Jr., aka Gold Medal Mel, won three Olympic medals at the 1992 Olympic Games. Mel's best event was the 200 butterfly. He is a former World, American, and NCAA Record holder in the 200 butterfly. As a writer/producer and sports columnist, Mel has contributed to Yahoo Sports, Universal Sports, …

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