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Olympics / Team USA

Lochte, Dressel and Ledecky all Chasing Gold at 2021 Tokyo Olympics

The 2021 Summer Olympic games are scheduled to take place from July 23 – Aug. 8 in Tokyo, Japan. ABC News recently reported that the Head of the Tokyo Olympics confirmed that the Summer Olympics “will open in just over three months and not be canceled despite surging COVID-19 cases in Japan.”

From April 10-11, 2021,  Team USA swimmers competed in the TYR Pro Swim Series in Mission Viejo, California. For American swimmers competing for a spot on the Team USA Olympic swimming team, this competition was a warmup.

Five-time Olympic Gold Medalist Katie Ledecky won the 400 meter Freestyle, while 2016 Gold-Medalists Ryan Murphy won the men’s 100 Meter backstroke and Lilly King won the 100 meter breaststroke.

Ryan Lochte’s Chances of Fifth Olympics

The record set by legendary former Team USA swimmer, Michael Phelps at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China, where he won eight Gold Medals has not been touched since then by an American Olympic swimmer. Phelps retired from Olympic swimming after the 2016 summer games, which passed the torch onto a new generation of American Olympians. This year’s generation of American Olympic swimmers will compete at the Olympic Team Trials from June 10-13, for a spot on Team USA.

At the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil, Ryan Lochte claimed his 12th Olympic medal and sixth Gold medal. The native of Rochester, New York was part of a Team USA 800-meter freestyle relay team that included his friend and Team USA’s all-time medals-leader Michael Phelps. For his part, Lochte into second-place on Team USA’s all-time-list for Olympic medals.

At the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics, Ryan Lochte won his first Gold medal in 4 X 200 meter team relay. A native of Rochester, New York, Lochte has swam for Team USA in four Summer games (2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016) in his career and if he is able to qualify for this summer’s games, 2021 will be his fifth appearance in the Olympics, which would tie a record set by Michael Phelps as well as American female swimmer Dara Torres for the most Olympic appearances by one American swimmer. According to Swimming World Magazine, if Lochte makes it to Tokyo, he will
“be the oldest male swimmer to ever represent the United States.”

If Lochte qualifies for this summer’s Olympic games, it would be sweet redemption for the 36-year-old who has suffered from many off-field issues. According to ESPN in 2016, Lochte falsely claimed that “he and his teammates were robbed at gunpoint at a gas station in a Rio suburb.” After that, Lochte was suspended 10 months from competing and lost all his endorsement deals. In 2018, Swimming World Magazine reported that Lochte had regained his form in the Swimming pool, but it was not long before he would be involved in another PR disaster. In May of 2018, Lochte “shared an Instagram photo of him using an IV to inject vitamins.” The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) suspended Lochte for 14 months, which was his second suspension in “less than two years.” Swimming World Magazine reported on April 18th that Lochte ranks fifth behind five other American swimmers in his best event, the 200-meter Individual Medley. Throughout a career that spans four Summer Olympics, the 36-year-old swimmer has won three Olympic medals in the 200 meter individual medley.

Team USA’s Greatest Hopes in 2021

Katie Ledecky is a five-time Olympic Gold Medalist swimmer. In 2012, Ledecky took home her first Gold. Then at the 2016 Rio games, Ledecky won four gold medals and one silver medal. Along with fellow American women, Lilly King and Allison Schmitt, the women’s side of Team USA’s swim team should be poised to make some noise in Tokyo this summer!

Michael Phelps won a record eight Gold Medals at the 2008 Summer Olympics in China, but since then fans of Team USA have had plenty to cheer for. At the 2016 Olympics in Rio, American male swimmer Ryan Murphy won Gold in the 100 and 200 meter backstroke races and those were his first Olympic medals. The Floridian won a Gold medal in the 4 X 100 medley relay with teammates Michael Phelps, Nathan Adrian and Cody Miller.

One of America’s biggest hopes to take home multiple medals in Tokyo is a 24-year-old man from Florida named Caeleb Dressel. This muscular six-foot-two American swimming talent made history when he became the first swimmer to win eight medals at a single World Aquatics Championship event. Out of those eight medals, Dressel won six Gold Medals, mostly in the 50 and 100 meter freestyle and butterfly, as far as individual races went. Dressel’s record-setting 2019 World Championships performance may have reminded fans of Michael Phelps’ legendary performance at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. So, undoubtedly, Caeleb Dressel is shaping up to be one of America’s top swimmers in both individual and team events at this summer’s Olympic games in Tokyo, Japan.

Team USA Swimmer, Lilly King

Lilly King won her first Olympic gold medal for winning the 100 meter Breaststroke and her second Gold medal for her role in the Team USA Women’s victory in the 4 X 100 Medley Relay.

In The Zone’s Nick Durst interviewed Lilly King in March, 2021. During the interview, King discussed the great learning experience that she had at her first Olympic games in 2016, where she had the opportunity to learn how to prepare and perform at a National Team Swim meet from Michael Phelps. King described her experience at the 2016 Olympic Games.

“My first National Team Meet, with Phelps, Lochte and all the greats. Just watching them go through their process– their warmup process, their warm down, how they handled themselves in the ready room. All those things made an impact on me.”

One of the big stories going into the 2016 Summer Olympics involved Russian swimmer Yulia Efimova testing positive for a banned performance-enhancing-substance before Rio and being allowed to compete at Rio, anyways. According to Vulture.com, Efimova finished first in the Semi-final Heat before the actual race and “shot her finger up in the air to declare herself ‘number one.'”

The American swimmer from Indiana would respond by finishing ahead of Efimova in the 100-meter Breaststroke race and claiming her first Olympic medal, the Gold in the 100-M breaststroke race. King’s Gold in 2016’s 100 meter Breast was the first time the USA had won Gold in that race, in 16 years! King made history for Team USA at the 2016 Olympics and will be looking to build upon that success in Tokyo this Summer.

Team USA Swimmer, Ryan Murphy

Ryan Murphy managed to take home three Gold Medals at the 2016 Summer Olympic games in Rio. Three Team USA swimmers who could represent the U.S. this summer, currently are signed to teams in the International Swimming League (ISL) including Murphy.

Recently, In The Zone’s Nicholas Durst interviewed Murphy, who recalled his memories of competing at his first Summer Olympic games in 2016.

“I’ve always been someone who has liked competing on the biggest stage,” Murphy said. “I wasn’t nervous that the pressure would be too much, so I went out there and just did what I do. I’ve swam these races so many times so to go there and do it in front of a bigger crowd was fun.”

After Murphy won gold medals in the 100 and 200-meter backstroke and in the 4 X 100 Men’s relay in Rio, he received text messages from all of his friends. The 26-year-old told ITZ’s Nick Durst what it felt like to win his first Olympic medals back when he was just 21-years-old and how that experience changed his perspective on life.

“The night of the Olympics I had people reach out to me who haven’t reached out to me in years,” Murphy said. “That is when you start to realize the impact that you can have on others. After the Olympics, I still wanted to keep swimming really well but I realized that I needed to extend my platform and make sure that I’m influencing others in the right way.”

Murphy says he is committed to growing swimming as a sport and “leaving it in a better place than where I found it.” That is what the ISL represents to Murphy. With swimmers like Ledecky and King, Dressel and Murphy on the men’s side, Team USA looks poised to continue their success in the Pool at the Olympic games this summer.

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Anthony Paradiso
Anthony has been a sportswriter at In The Zone since Sept. 2019. He graduated from Montclair State, where he was assistant Editor of the student newspaper's sports section. He also co-hosts a sports-themed radio show on the campus station, WMSC 90.3 FM, which was recently named #1 college radio station in the nation.

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