swimming

Ryan Lochte, Missy Franklin
Getty Images

Missy Franklin, Ryan Lochte adjust to fewer events in Rio

Leave a comment

Missy Franklin and Ryan Lochte will be busy in the pool at the Rio Olympics. Just not as busy as they wanted to be.

The two popular stars from the U.S. swimming team four years ago in London have just three individual events between them in Rio, hardly the frenetic schedule they’ve grown accustomed to over the years.

Four years ago, Franklin swam four individual events and three relays, while Lochte had three individual events, plus two relays. Together, they won 10 medals.

This time, neither will defend their Olympic titles in two events. Franklin failed to qualify for the 100-meter backstroke at the recent U.S. trials, while Lochte, bothered by a groin injury, didn’t make the team in the 400 individual medley.

The perpetually upbeat Franklin put a positive spin on her reduced schedule that will give her more time in the stands cheering on her teammates.

“I’m still a second-time Olympian, I get to go to Rio, I get to be a part of this team,” she said.

Franklin’s seventh-place finish in the 100 back at trials had her in the unusual position of publicly working through major disappointment.

“You have this idea in your head that everyone’s careers are perfect all the time, and as soon as yours starts to waver a little bit you start wondering, ‘Oh my goodness, why is this happening?'” she said. “You sort of start to realize no one has the perfect career, no one makes every team in every event that they want to.”

At 17, Franklin was one of the biggest stars at the London Olympics, competing in seven events and winning four gold medals and a bronze. Away from the pool, she didn’t cash in right away since she wanted to compete collegiately.

After two years at California, Franklin turned pro last year, setting up major endorsement deals heading into Rio. She’s found it challenging balancing training with accommodating sponsors’ demands for photo shoots, commercials and appearances.

“It’s fun, absolutely, but that doesn’t mean it’s not hard,” she said. “It’s definitely more to juggle than what I had to in 2012. I definitely have some days when I wake up and I’m more tired than normal.”

Also making it difficult is Franklin’s inclination to please others, sometimes at her expense. She’s had to learn to say no and not feel guilty.

“She will literally look at somebody and say, ‘Have you had enough pictures? I’m going to start my practice now,'” her coach Todd Schmitz said. “I stand there and go, ‘Good, yes.’ I’ve always told her I will be the bad guy every single time, but I can’t always be there.”

But, while Franklin has more money in her pocket, it’s been a struggle to regain the form that made her the world’s most dominant female swimmer — a title ceded to fellow American Katie Ledecky.

“One of the things I’ve been trying to do this whole year is not compare myself to where I was in 2012,” said Franklin, who returned home to Colorado to train with Schmitz. “I came in here to be the best of who I am right now, not who I was four years ago.”

Franklin will be competing in the 200 freestyle and 200 backstroke in Rio, while Lochte swims the 200 IM. Both qualified to swim on the women’s and men’s 800 free relay.

Lochte turns 32 on Aug. 3, two days before the games open. He has 11 career medals going into his fourth Olympics.

“It’s a lot harder because I’m older,” he said. “I can’t put my body through certain practices or sets that I used to be able to do.”

In London, Lochte won the 400 IM on the first day of the eight-day competition, and then made what he called his biggest mistake of the games.

“I didn’t do the right recovery process after that win because I was just like, ‘Screw this, I’m happy,'” he recalled. “I think that kind of hurt me throughout the meet. Now that I’ve gotten more mature, I’m listening to my body more.”

He’s also listening to coach Dave Marsh, who will oversee the U.S. women’s team in Rio. After London, Lochte relocated his training base to Charlotte, North Carolina, and cut back his partying lifestyle in favor of more time in the pool.

“When he’s in the water working hard, he’s probably his most happy,” Marsh said.

After Rio, Franklin will return to college. Lochte is likely to keep swimming, as long as he’s still having fun.

“I said the day you finish is the day you’re going to meet up with a girl and have grandchildren,” his mother Ike Lochte said. “He just laughs at me.”

MORE: Move over Phelps: Two women entered in most swim events in Rio

Greek swimmer who was in, then out, of Rio Games is back in

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12:  The Greece flag is  displayed during the Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 12, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Greek swimmer who was invited and then uninvited to the Rio Games has been invited once again, according Greek newspaper Kathimerini.

Kristel Vourna received a formal invite to the Games from FINA on July 6, but then had it rescinded July 14 due to an administrative error. On Wednesday, however, FINA reinstated the Greek 100m butterfly champion “following consultations with the International Olympic Committee.”

Vourna placed 12th in the women’s 100m butterfly at the London Games and swam in Greece’s 4x100m relay team, but had only achieved the B-standard time during the 2016 Olympic qualification period. So she was surprised by the initial invite.

She was later angered when FINA alerted her of the error and instead offered her a chance to attend the Olympics as a spectator. But now the 24-year-old, who competed at the University of Alabama, will again be a competitor.

Said Greek swimming federation president, Dimitris Diathesopoulos: “This time, personally as the head of the Greek federation, I would like to thank both FINA and Cornel Marculescu (FINA’s executive director) for their extraordinary action in favor of Vourna.”

MORE: Olympic Swimming Trials reveal where U.S. stands versus world

Move over Michael Phelps: Hosszu, Belmonte entered in most swim events

Katinka Hosszu, Mireia Belmonte
Getty Images
1 Comment

No swimmer was busier than Michael Phelps over the last three Olympics. Now that Phelps has pared his schedule to three individual events, somebody else has to set the standard for splashes in Rio.

That somebody is actually two people — Hungarian Katinka Hosszu, nicknamed the Iron Lady for her penchant for entering several events in meets local and global, and Spain’s Mireia Belmonte.

They’re both entered in a meet-high five individual events in Rio, according to lists published by FINA on Wednesday.

Olympic Swimming Entries: Men | Women 

Hosszu, 27, will compete in her fourth Olympics, seeking her first medal. Read more about Hosszu’s emotional swimming career here.

Belmonte, 25, is going to her third Olympics. The Spanish star took silver in the 800m freestyle and the 200m butterfly in 2012, when she also swam five individual events (more than Phelps’ four, but she swam one relay to Phelps’ three).

Hosszu is the favorite in the 200m and 400m individual medleys, having swept them at the 2013 and 2015 World Championships. She is also entered in the 100m and 200m backstrokes and the 200m butterfly. Hosszu decided not to swim the 200m freestyle, despite finishing fifth in that event at the 2015 World Championships.

Belmonte is also entered in both medleys and the 200m butterfly; she earned medals in all three at the 2013 Worlds. Rather than Hosszu’s backstrokes, she is entered in the 400m and 800m frees, events dominated by American Katie Ledecky. Belmonte missed the 2015 World Championships due to a shoulder injury.

Also of note, South Korea’s Park Tae-hwan is entered in the 100m, 200m, 400m and 1500m freestyles.

MORE: Rio Olympics schedule, day-by-day highlights