Water Cube, Beijing

It's ironic that Ryan Lochte could be making an attempt on Spitz's magic seven - if it wasn't for the freakish ability of his US team-mate Michael Phelps.

The pair of them could have done with a team of event co-ordinators and a project manager to get them through the finals this morning.

Firstly, Lochte was competing in two finals separated only by 25 minutes.

From the moment he got out of the pool after breaking the world record on the 200m backstroke he had to fight his way through 150 metres of the world's TV, radio and press media packed into the mixed zone wanting quotes for their pieces.

The talent of Lochte (right) has been overshadowed by Phelps

He managed to politely bat them all away and once away from the bright lights of the main pool could concentrate on his warm down, helping his body to recover as quickly as possible.

He would only have had time to do around 300 metres warm down which is not ideal by any means.

Usually before an Olympic final swimmers like to put their feet up for an hour before the race, do some gentle stretching and listen to their own motivation music.

Lochte would only have had time to towel down and put on his tracksuit to parade out for the final of the 200m individual medley.

In fact he must not have had time to put on his tracksuit - and paraded out in his swimsuit only.

It's highly unusual to see a swimmer walking out for an Olympic final without the national tracksuit and it raised whispers of doubt around his potential performance amongst the media in the mixed zone.

Phelps was simply brilliant in the 200m individual medley and broke the spirit of his competitors on the first 100m, turning well under world-record pace at the halfway mark.

He secured his sixth gold in a world record time which leaves him only one gold away from Spitz's feat of 1972.

But my eyes were focussed on Lochte who was battling for third.

He claimed the medal and went under the Olympic record - and this for me shows powers of recovery even greater than Phelps'.

Phelps is revolutionising the sporting landscape with his efforts and the manner in which he is doing it is phenomenal.

Prior to the games, eight golds - all in world records times - was incomprehensible.
But now only 48 hours away from his final swim it seems the incomprehensible is now possible.

The Americans will win the medley relay on Sunday (0400 BST) by a long long way so now it would seem that only Milorad Cavic of Serbia , his main rival in the 100m butterfly on Saturday (0313 BST), can stop Phelps in his quest.

After winning Olympic races adding up to over 3km - surely he can do one final 100m to make him immortal in the history books?

In stark contrast to Phelps' results, Katie Hoff came here trying to win five gold medals.
She is now desperate to get on the plane home after "only" winning silver and two bronze.

The Olympic Games is a celebration of courage and Michael will need a bucket load of it in the next 24 hours.

Oh and a big bowl of pasta, lots of sleep and some wise words from his coach Bob Bowman.

Steve Parry is a former Olympic medallist. Our FAQs should answer any questions you have.


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