Ryan Lochte ready for pool duel of the London 2012 Olympics against Michael Phelps

 

Ryan Lochte will begin his bid for six gold medals tomorrow morning believing he has never been in better shape. Lochte is set to mount the most determined challenge yet to Michael Phelps's long-term supremacy in the pool and yesterday exuded confidence during his first public appearance in London.

"I know this is going to be my year," said Lochte. "All the training I have put in is going to pay off – I know it. I am in way better shape [than Beijing]. I just know I am ready. I am not going for silver or bronze. I am going for gold."

Tomorrow's opening day of the pool programme will pitch the two against each other in the 400m individual medley – immediately denying one of them the opportunity to win every event they enter. Lochte has targeted six gold medals – one fewer than Phelps – from his third Olympic Games. He won two golds to Phelps' eight in Beijing.

Phelps won the 400m Individual Medley four years ago – as he did in Athens in 2004 – but Lochte qualified for London ahead of Phelps at the US trials in Omaha last month. It was another sign of the huge improvement the 27-year-old has made since Beijing. That included out-performing Phelps in the world championships in Shanghai last year.

"I had a four-year plan coming out of Beijing to get here to London," said Lochte, who has transformed his training schedule. It now includes a large amount of weight training outside the pool and includes an unconventional programme where he lifts and drags huge tyres and chains around his training base in Florida.

"That is one of the edges I now have," he said. "There is not another swimmer in the world doing what I'm doing. I have increased power and that has given me an edge – look at my year. I am going to be a lot faster."

His improvement since Beijing has been dramatic. His ability has never been doubted but since he overhauled his training regime and increased its intensity, the medals have been piling up on his mantelpiece.

In Shanghai last year – a meeting he says he was not entirely happy with despite five gold medals – he became the first man to break a world record since the banning of textile bodysuits. This will be the first Olympic Games since the ban – the suits led to a torrent of world records – and for Lochte that is something to be welcomed.

"It was not the swimmer making the suit," he said. "It was the suit making the swimmer. Now that has been reversed again – I like it! It shows who the real swimmers are. The ones who do the hard work are rewarded."

The duel between the two, who have been friends for the best part of a decade since competing against each other at junior levels, has captivated the US – as well as the swimming world beyond. As well as the 400m IM, Lochte will swim the 200m IM – where he will be up against Phelps again – the 200m backstroke, the 200m freestyle and the relays.

"Back home people are talking about me and Michael," said Lochte. "It's just talk. We will see what happens in a couple of days."

Medal count: Most decorated Olympians

18 Larisa Latynina (Soviet Union, gymnast) 9 gold, 5 silver, 4 bronze

16 Michael Phelps (US, swimmer) 14G, 2B

15 Nikolai Andrianov (Soviet Union, gymnast) 7G, 5S, 3B

13 Boris Shakhlin (Soviet Union, gymnast) 7G, 4S, 2B

13 Takashi Ono (Japan, gymnast) 5G, 4S, 4 B

13 Edoardo Mangiarotti (Italy, fencing) 6G, 5S, 2B

James Orr

Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
filmDirector said film would 'never have been financed' with ethnic minority actors in key roles
Life and Style
View of champagne glasses at a beach bar set up along the Croisette during the 66th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes on May 17, 2013
food + drink(and for now, there's a clear winner)
News
people
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Irradiated turkey and freeze dried mash potato will be on the menu this thanksgiving
video
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
music
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
News
Ed Miliband visiting the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The Labour leader has spoken more openly of his heritage recently
newsAttacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But are the barbs more sinister?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?