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Lochte highlights friendship with Phelps ahead of London showdown

By Paul Giblin (Xinhua)

10:10, July 27, 2012

LONDON, July 26 (Xinhua) -- When he sat down for the press conference of the US swimming team on Thursday, Ryan Lochte was probably expecting a barrage of questions he received about his rivalry with Michael Phelps.

It was no surprise when that was exactly what happened.

The 400 meters individual medley in which Lochte and Phelps will match up head to head this Saturday is going to provide one of the first big stories of the Olympics as reigning world champion Lochte takes on the Phelps, who as well as winning the gold medal in Beijing also set the current world and Olympic record.

However, anyone looking for some spice from Lochte regarding Phelps was in for a disappointment.

"I'm friends with everyone, I don't have enemies. He is my competitor. We have a great rivalry, but we also built a great friendship and we'll be friends whatever happens after the races," said Lochte, who insisted the man with 14 Olympic gold medals was no different from the rest of his companions in the US swimming squad, despite all the media attention.

"When Michael is with us, he is normal, just like all of us, we don't see him as anything different. He does get more exposure, but after what he did in 2008 that is normal," he said, before adding it would be a mistake to see Phelps as his only rival.

"I'm not going just to beat Michael: I also have to worry about a lot of other swimmers from around the race. I can't just look at just one person," he insisted, highlighting European champion Laszlo Cseh as a major challenger.

"One of the biggest threats is Laszlo, he's been there since 2004 and is a great competitor," said Lochte, who added the 200 meters medley could end up being an even closer race.

Lochte also explained his philosophy for these Games, living up to his reputation as a man who also likes to enjoy himself.

"In this sport means you have to conserve your energy, but you have to have fun. I have been doing quite well balancing stuff outside swimming and what happens in the pool," he said

Finally, Lochte explained that although the Olympics are special, he would treat them as he would any other competition.

"There is no difference," he explained. "I go into each meet as a normal meet, I have the same mindset as I had when I was 11. Back home people are talking about Michael and me, but it is just talk and we'll see what happens in a couple of days," he concluded.

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