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With Michael Phelps mania sweeping the nation, I find myself pulling more for Ryan Lochte in tonight's 200 Individual Medley.

 

Granted it's a huge long shot. He's got the 200 Back finals against Aaron Peirsol 39 minutes beforehand -- a race either man can win. And the IM field includes, oh yeah, Michael Phelps. But for Lochte to win would take an amazing swim, perhaps leading to a race more exciting than the recent 4x100 free relay.

 

Not to mention that Lochte, a talented IM swimmer, must sort of resign himself to finishing behind Phelps for the rest of his life.

 

I like Michael Phelps. I have nothing against him. I love watching him swim. But him breaking Mark Spitz's single-Games gold medal record isn't really that important to me and how much I enjoy watching Olympic swimming.

 

Frankly, I'm kind of turned off the Speedo LZR. It's a little too technological for swimming, I think. Now if Phelps stepped up on the block without a cap or goggles, sporting a mustache and wearing just a tiny Speedo, a la Spitz -- that would be amazing.

 

Phelps' toughest test is going to come against Ian Crocker in the 100 fly. Both men are probably going to be incredibly amped up for it. Crocker swam a slow 51.95 in the qualifying heat (compared with Phelps' 50.87), about a second and a half off his own world record. Maybe he's just conserving energy.

 

But I can't help but think, "How amazing would it be to see Ryan Lochte pull off an upset in a race that Phelps seemingly owns?"

 

Besides, maybe he's waiting for just that kind of swim to break out the grillz he sported at the 2007 Worlds in Melbourne:

 

AP Photo/Mark Baker

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