SwimSwam Pulse: 53% Pick Lochte Over Phelps In Hypothetical 100 IM Skins

SwimSwam Pulse is a recurring feature tracking and analyzing the results of our periodic A3 Performance Polls. You can cast your vote in our newest poll on the SwimSwam homepage, about halfway down the page on the right side, or you can find the poll embedded at the bottom of this post.

Our most recent poll asked SwimSwam readers to pick the winner of a hypothetical 100 IM skins race between the two greatest American male IMers of all-time:


Question: Who would win in a hypothetical 100 IM SCM skin race?

A narrow majority of voters picked Ryan Lochte to win a hypothetical three-round skins race with Michael Phelps.

The matchup is an intriguing one. Few swimming fans would be quick to pick against Phelps – the most-decorated Olympian of all-time – in any hypothetical matchup. But the short course meters format would play into Lochte’s strengths: he was much more active in short course meters across his career than Phelps was. Lochte was a 21-time short course world champion, while Phelps won just a single Short Course Worlds medal, winning the 200 free in 2004.

Looking specifically at this 100 IM, Lochte is the former world record-holder, having gone 50.71 back in 2012. Even eight years later, Lochte remains the #3 performer of all-time, with only Markus Deibler (once in 2014) and Vladimir Morozov (four times between 2016 and 2018) going faster than Lochte’s former world record time.

Over multiple rounds, this matchup would be an absolute slug-fest between two of the toughest endurance IMers in history. Phelps is the long course 400 IM world record-holder with a 4:03.84 that hasn’t even been approached since the end of the super-suit era. Lochte is the #2 performer in history there, and the ranks flip in the 200 long course IM – Lochte is the world record-holder and Phelps the #2 performer in history.


Below, vote in our new A3 Performance Pollwhich asks voters to pick another hypothetical skins winner between the three fastest women’s 50 freestylers in history:

Who would win in a hypothetical 50 free (SCM) skin race?

View Results

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A3 Performance is an independently-owned, performance swimwear company built on a passion for swimming, athletes, and athletic performance. We encourage swimmers to swim better and faster at all ages and levels, from beginners to Olympians.  Driven by a genuine leader and devoted staff that are passionate about swimming and service, A3 Performance strives to inspire and enrich the sport of swimming with innovative and impactful products that motivate swimmers to be their very best – an A3 Performer.

The A3 Performance Poll is courtesy of A3 Performance, a SwimSwam partner

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6-Beat Kick
2 years ago

If we are talking about a 2012 Lochte and because it would be short course, my money would be on Lochte. Although it would be insanely close. The goat always had that x-factor when the bets were stacked against him.

Conor Swanson
2 years ago

I am a fan of both parties here. If the argument is that Lochte has better fly kicks, its hard for me to see that argument. I think Phelps has a better 100fly/back/freestyle LCM time than Lochte. Breaststroke I have never seen either of them in a meaningful way race. Phelps also did not swim in college or have a lot of SCY swims to go off of. A coin flip leaning Lochtes way is probably fair.

2 years ago

I’d take dressel over both of them. Can’t pick between the two.

2 years ago

I just don’t see how Lochte wins, for a couple reasons.

1) Just because Phelps didn’t show up to swim SCM that much doesn’t mean he couldn’t dominate in the course. SCM is all turns, and how many times have we seen Phelps absolutely DUST Lochte off a wall?

2) No one, ever, maybe in the history of any sport, has had the capacity for recovery that peak Phelps had. His freakish ability to bring his lactic acid back down to normal in a matter of a couple minutes is why he was able to handle the event loads he had over his career. Honestly, given his capacity to recover, I think he might win any skins race against anyone.… Read more »

Reply to  Jack
2 years ago

Doesn’t matter how many 50s you put out there. If Dressel gets any rest at all, he wins.

To your point, though, I agree that by round 3 of a 100 IM Phelps could probably beat Lochte in a skins format. With rest, I say Lochte.

Reply to  Jack
2 years ago

Seem to remember Phelps getting ‘dusted’ by Lochte in phelps best jammer 200free ever in Shanghai.
Phelps never went faster than 1.44.7 in jammers and Lochte destroyed him underwater at the 100 turn that much he went from behind to in-front Just underwater.
‘Peak’ Lochte was better underwater than peak phelps.
There lots of swimmers who can 3×50’s back to back, Phelps wouldn’t make it out of first round on 50’s. Dressel , Chad would destroy him on 3×50’s fly or free.
Phelps be better at 3×100 fly or free long course skins and he’d go or 48 on all three and be untouchable. 50’s SCM I don’t see it.

2 years ago

I picked Lochte only because Matt Grevers wasn’t on the ballot.

Reply to  Ferb
2 years ago

Peak Grevers would dust both these guys in round 1…..round 3 would be ugly :p

2 years ago

I picked lochte, but Bowman did once call Phelps “a notoriously good descender,” so maybe skins would have been perfect for him

Irish Ringer
2 years ago

Phelps would dust him on the 3rd 100 IM. Peak Lochte wasn’t a good in season swimmer.

Last edited 2 years ago by Irish Ringer
Reply to  Irish Ringer
2 years ago

I assumed this hypothetical skins race would be at a championship meet, not in season.

Reply to  Irish Ringer
2 years ago

Totally agree. Lochte would probably win 1 and 2, but Phelps was always better on the back end of races.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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