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View Full Version : Handicapping Lochte-Phelps 200 IM Odds



jim thornton
April 20th, 2012, 02:56 PM
Phelps owned the 200 IM for years.

Lochte beat him, and took the World Record, at last year's world championships.

Ryan Lochte NEW World Record 200m Individual Medley - YouTube

In the process, Lochte became the first person to set a LCM world record in the post-tech suit era. Only one other WR has fallen since--the Chinese guy who beat Hackett's 1500 m record.

In the course of writing up an article on Lochte for Men's Health, I asked him and some of his coach's about the Lochte-Phelps rivalry, and I didn't get terribly far.

What I need is a knowledgable source (or sources) who can discuss their respective odds objectively and be willing to be quoted. Perhaps a world class coach who has no ties to either one? Any suggestions?

In the meantime, what do you guys think?

Who has the edge in terms of each stroke?

Phelps better in fly?
Lochte better in back?
It seemed in their race at World's, Lochte gained some in breast? But was this just a fluke?
Equal in free?

What about speed vs. endurance? Phelps isn't swimming the 400 IM, right? But he was always noted more for 200-400 greatness, a bit less for all out sprinting (with the exception, maybe, of the 100 fly)? Isn't Lochte the same way?

Which of the two has more sprinting speed?

What about endurance?

At this level, what is the 200 IM considered--a long sprint or a short mid-D race?

What about mental attitude? Now that Lochte has emerged from Phelps' shadow in a top level competition, do you think he's ever going back? Was last year's Worlds a fluke for Phelps or a genuine changing of the guard?

Any insights would be tremendously appreciated!

Couroboros
April 20th, 2012, 03:22 PM
I am not a knowledgeable source nor am I world-class coach, but I am offering my two cents anyway!

What I've always heard and read is that Phelps and Lochte have been friends for quite a while and this rivalry talk always bewilders them. In Shanghai, Phelps wasn't in his tip-top shape so he could always say, "Eh, I wasn't bringing my A game... I'm saving that for London." However, now, London is imminent and Phelps will want to cap off his career with a great finish, but meanwhile Lochte wants to definitively step out from behind Phelps' shadow in the eyes of not just the swimming world, but the whole world as well. Both swimmers are going to be in the very best shape of their lives, so there's no excuses left. One of them will be judged as being definitively better than the other, if only for one Olympics. Hence, I think as the Olympics grow closer and closer, these two friends are going to grow less and less bewildered about the rivalry talk. A rivalry there will be.

IMO, Phelps has more to lose than Lochte. If Phelps leaves London butt-whipped by Lochte in the 200 free, 200 IM, maybe even the 400 IM (should Phelps swim it after all), his legacy will be forever diminished from what it could have been. Whereas, Lochte has a lot more to gain if he bests Phelps than to lose if he does not. If Lochte wins the 200 free, 200 IM, 400 IM, maybe even 100 fly (he raised some eyebrows at a meet in this event recently), he'll only add to the pretty impressive feats he pulled off at Shanghai last summer. He'll be able to say that when he was absolutely 100% without any injuries (like the groin injury he had in 2008) or afflictions (the runs during Beijing), he beat Phelps again and again, and hence, he is the better swimmer than Phelps. He'll even be able to make the case that he's a better swimmer for all-time than Phelps.

As for strokes, Phelps is better at the fly. He's also more consistent in freestyle, but Lochte does have the Shanghai win in the 200 free to point at. Lochte is better in the breaststroke, and both are even in the backstroke.

Both swimmers are mental giants, true monoliths compared to all the other swimmers in the water. Lochte will be able to look back at how hard he's worked in the past four years and he's got the momentum from Shanghai, but Phelps has the confidence that when he trains consistently, he truly believes no one, not even Lochte, can beat him.

smontanaro
April 20th, 2012, 04:54 PM
I have no :2cents: to contribute to the discussion. (I don't follow either swimmer enough to have a real opinion.) I did pop on over to intrade.com (http://www.intrade.com/) to see if they had anything Olympics-related. It turns out they don't, probably because it's too close to sports betting. However, they do have a London Olympics (http://www.intrade.com/v4/forum/?forum=/intradeForum/posts/list/493212.page) thread in their forums. You might suggest a Phelps-or-Lochte market and see what the crowd says (if they create it).

Skip

jim thornton
April 20th, 2012, 10:25 PM
I have no :2cents: to contribute to the discussion. (I don't follow either swimmer enough to have a real opinion.) I did pop on over to intrade.com (http://www.intrade.com/) to see if they had anything Olympics-related. It turns out they don't, probably because it's too close to sports betting. However, they do have a London Olympics (http://www.intrade.com/v4/forum/?forum=/intradeForum/posts/list/493212.page) thread in their forums. You might suggest a Phelps-or-Lochte market and see what the crowd says (if they create it).

Skip

That's a fantastic idea, Skip. Do you know how to start a market on intrade? Does it cost anything other than a small bet on the outcome? The fact that neither one has even made the event yet at Trials gives it an interesting gambler's speculative quality to it. Then after Trials, if both make it, whoever wins at Trials will have the edge.

Probably not enough swimming aficionados to create the market, but it could be interesting to try if you know how...

smontanaro
April 20th, 2012, 10:28 PM
I think you have to propose it. The maintainers take it under consideration and create the market if they think it's appropriate. You should be able to propose it as a post on that thread.

S

jim thornton
April 20th, 2012, 10:45 PM
I think you have to propose it. The maintainers take it under consideration and create the market if they think it's appropriate. You should be able to propose it as a post on that thread.

S

I just checked it out, and it looks like there is a prohibition on sports gambling. I don't know why you can bet on the outcome of elections but not on Olympic races.

I suppose they are afraid one of the competitors might bet heavily on the other guy and purposely throw the race.

"Michael Phelps sells his 14 gold medals and sex tapes with floosies on eBay for $7.9 million dollars and gambles the whole amount on inTrade's market for the 200 IM in London. Phelps, interestingly, bets everything on Lochte to win."

Doesn't seem too likely, but I suppose it could happen.

havepoolwillswim
April 21st, 2012, 11:03 AM
I am not a knowledgeable source nor am I world-class coach, but I am offering my two cents anyway!

What I've always heard and read is that Phelps and Lochte have been friends for quite a while and this rivalry talk always bewilders them. In Shanghai, Phelps wasn't in his tip-top shape so he could always say, "Eh, I wasn't bringing my A game... I'm saving that for London." However, now, London is imminent and Phelps will want to cap off his career with a great finish, but meanwhile Lochte wants to definitively step out from behind Phelps' shadow in the eyes of not just the swimming world, but the whole world as well. Both swimmers are going to be in the very best shape of their lives, so there's no excuses left. One of them will be judged as being definitively better than the other, if only for one Olympics. Hence, I think as the Olympics grow closer and closer, these two friends are going to grow less and less bewildered about the rivalry talk. A rivalry there will be.

IMO, Phelps has more to lose than Lochte. If Phelps leaves London butt-whipped by Lochte in the 200 free, 200 IM, maybe even the 400 IM (should Phelps swim it after all), his legacy will be forever diminished from what it could have been. Whereas, Lochte has a lot more to gain if he bests Phelps than to lose if he does not. If Lochte wins the 200 free, 200 IM, 400 IM, maybe even 100 fly (he raised some eyebrows at a meet in this event recently), he'll only add to the pretty impressive feats he pulled off at Shanghai last summer. He'll be able to say that when he was absolutely 100% without any injuries (like the groin injury he had in 2008) or afflictions (the runs during Beijing), he beat Phelps again and again, and hence, he is the better swimmer than Phelps. He'll even be able to make the case that he's a better swimmer for all-time than Phelps.

As for strokes, Phelps is better at the fly. He's also more consistent in freestyle, but Lochte does have the Shanghai win in the 200 free to point at. Lochte is better in the breaststroke, and both are even in the backstroke.

Both swimmers are mental giants, true monoliths compared to all the other swimmers in the water. Lochte will be able to look back at how hard he's worked in the past four years and he's got the momentum from Shanghai, but Phelps has the confidence that when he trains consistently, he truly believes no one, not even Lochte, can beat him.

This is a great analysis.

jim thornton
April 21st, 2012, 12:16 PM
This is a great analysis.

I agree, Mr. Couroboros, for a self-described un-knowledgeable source, this makes a lot of sense.

I have had the luck to interview both these fellows--Mr. Phelps by phone for a very rushed 20 minutes, and Mr. Lochte in person down in Gainesville last week.

I know it's horribly unfair to judge people based on a very short exposure, especially when they are not only the best athletes in their sport in the world, but when they are under intense training pressure and endless media demands.

That said, I found Lochte to be MUCH more likable than Phelps. There was something about his combination of super laid back/relaxed in "normal" life attitude, and pitiless predator savagery during training and races, that was really impressive.

In your analysis, you made the point that Phelps is being motivated a bit more by a negative (fear of damage to his legacy) and Lochte a bit more by a positive (desire to demonstrate before the world stage his greatness as a swimmer.)

Obviously, both have the corollary incentives, too--i.e., Phelps would like to further gild his golden reputation, and Lochte surely doesn't want to go down in history as a bridesmaid.

Still, if you are correct in your idea that Phelps is largely trying to avoid a bad outcome, and Lochte is largely trying to ensure a good outcome, it may come down to the psychology of which of these is more powerful a motivator.

The conventional wisdom would suggest fear trumps hope, as evidenced by a joke I heard a while back.

A man is dying, and the local priest tries to get him to accept Jesus. He spends hours talking up how great heaven will be to those who are saved. Still the dying man refuses to go for it.

The priest, depressed and ready for a drink, is telling his story of failure in a local bar. One of the patrons says, "Let me give it a shot." The priest is dubious but agrees to take the patron over to the dying man's house.

The bar patron goes and emerges 5 minutes later and tells the priest, "He's a believer now."

The priest, dumbstruck, asks, "How did you make him want to go to heaven?"

The patron says, "I didn't. I made him fear Hell."

So, if this joke has any truth to it, Phelps will win.

However, in talking with Lochte, I got a real sense that he doesn't fear any bad outcomes--from a bad race to, presumably, hell!

I don't know.

Between liking him more and thinking he has the most unusual competitive psychology I have ever run into, I'd like to think Lochte will win.

It's probably good that Intrade doesn't have a market for this, because putting money on this would be difficult either way.

Chris Stevenson
April 21st, 2012, 10:56 PM
If Phelps leaves London butt-whipped by Lochte...his legacy will be forever diminished from what it could have been.

Geez, tough crowd. "Eight gold medals? What have you done lately?"

Couroboros
April 21st, 2012, 11:20 PM
Not a tough crowd.

Stiff competition. Stiff, unyielding, unending, merciless, pitiless competition.

Chris Stevenson
April 22nd, 2012, 10:10 AM
Not a tough crowd.

Stiff competition. Stiff, unyielding, unending, merciless, pitiless competition.

Merciless AND pitiless does sound pretty tough!

Nah, I don't see any of them getting close to 8 golds. But we don't need to move the goalposts. Lochte winning "only" 5 golds would constitute a phenomenally successful outing.

Unless he admits to doping or something, Phelps' legacy is just fine regardless of what he does in London.

That Guy
April 22nd, 2012, 11:23 AM
Merciless AND pitiless does sound pretty tough!

Nah, I don't see any of them getting close to 8 golds. But we don't need to move the goalposts. Lochte winning "only" 5 golds would constitute a phenomenally successful outing.

Unless he admits to doping or something, Phelps' legacy is just fine regardless of what he does in London.

Indeed. Phelps could have a mediocre Games and still pass http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larisa_Latynina for the most Olympic medals.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kieren_Perkins won silver in 2000 and I've never heard anyone suggest that it tarnished his legacy.

Couroboros
April 22nd, 2012, 04:08 PM
Merciless AND pitiless does sound pretty tough!

Nah, I don't see any of them getting close to 8 golds. But we don't need to move the goalposts. Lochte winning "only" 5 golds would constitute a phenomenally successful outing.

Unless he admits to doping or something, Phelps' legacy is just fine regardless of what he does in London.

Did I say something in this thread that made you feel you needed to say something about Lochte getting "only" 5 golds? Cuz I agree with you, if he gets five, that's one of the best Olympic performances ever, especially since he'd be in a pond with a fish as big as Phelps in it. No dispute there!

As for Phelps' legacy, first just let me say, I don't believe in the notion that his eight golds in Beijing grant him "Legacy Immunity." That doesn't mean I expect him to get nine or ten golds in London. I don't even expect him to get seven. Or six. I'll be happy with however much he gets, and I'll be happy for him if he beats Lochte in all their match-ups (and vice versa, if Lochte beats him instead).

The biggest danger to something like "legacy" is perception. And the physical, concrete danger to Phelps' legacy is Lochte, Lochte, Lochte. For some reason, even though he riveted the world with his Beijing performance and people tuned in night after night to watch him, I don't think people took to Michael Phelps as much as they did with athletes like Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods. Maybe it's because Phelps is more reticent, more camera-shy, whatever, but I also think people are going to take to Ryan Lochte in a way that they never did with Michael Phelps. Part of that is the physical attractiveness that James mentioned and joked about, but it's also about his ebullient personality, the whole Zen thing to being himself, as dangerous as that can be to his swimming goals.* It's kind of like Lochte has more of an identifiable and relatable personality than Phelps, and that's only going to get magnified tenfold when Lochte becomes the Underdog, the David, to Phelps' Evil Empire, Yankee Organization, Goliath. And then, after the the hype machine hits critical mass on the eve of the swimming events at London, what if Lochte starts beating Phelps in all their match-ups? What if he sweeps?

Ten years on, swim geeks like you and I would always remember Phelps' eight golds in Beijing more quickly and judge such a thing as more impressive a feat than what Lochte would have done in London. But the rest of the world, and that's the 99% of the people watching the Olympics, will remember the surfer dude who never gave up, always believed in himself, and toppled the Greatest Olympian of All Time.

*I've always observed this about Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, because someone like Ryan Lochte mystifies me, like I'm always going, "How is he like that?" Meanwhile, I'm one of the people who understands Michael Phelps, who gets him, partially because I'm way more like Phelps than Lochte, personality-wise. But there's a lot of people who just don't get Michael Phelps, so they say he's shy or he's cocky and arrogant or he's just plain dumb. This is also another reason that of these two rivals, I'll be rooting for Phelps. I get him. But most people are going to take to Lochte in a nanosecond as opposed to Phelps. Lochte just has way more appeal and charisma.

Chris Stevenson
April 22nd, 2012, 05:47 PM
Did I say something in this thread that made you feel you needed to say something about Lochte getting "only" 5 golds?

No, I just pulled that number out of thin air. My main disagreement with you is the idea that Phelps has a lot to lose in this matchup.

You say that people have short memories and like Lochte more than Phelps. Possibly so. But people also know that 5 (or whatever) is less than 8.

I didn't think Spitz had such a winning personality, but his Olympic performance set the standard for decades. I expect Phelps' will too. Consider the fact that Phelps was at the top of his game, completely dominating the competition in many events...and still he was incredibly lucky to exceed (or even equal) Spitz' feat. Maybe I'm wrong and Lochte will match it but the odds are (greatly IMO) against him.

Anyway, in terms of "who has the most to lose," I think it is Lochte, not Phelps. Phelps has already dominated the Olympic stage, Lochte hasn't, despite his impressive accomplishments to date. And until he does he'll have something to prove. But he also seems to have a personality type that seems fairly immune to pressure so I'm sure he'll handle it just fine. As Phelps did last time.

TRYM_Swimmer
April 22nd, 2012, 08:06 PM
Anyway, in terms of "who has the most to lose," I think it is Lochte, not Phelps. Phelps has already dominated the Olympic stage, Lochte hasn't, despite his impressive accomplishments to date. And until he does he'll have something to prove.

I agree.

gdanner
April 22nd, 2012, 10:09 PM
In the meantime, what do you guys think?

What about mental attitude? Now that Lochte has emerged from Phelps' shadow in a top level competition, do you think he's ever going back? Was last year's Worlds a fluke for Phelps or a genuine changing of the guard?

Any insights would be tremendously appreciated!

From a betting perspective, there are only a couple things that matter:

1. 0.16 seconds separates them from last year. This is practically nothing.
2. One of them is most likely going to win. But there are no guarantees in life, so you have to set odds on the field.
3. There is no mental edge. They both believe they can win. This is a non-factor.

Pre-OT, I would set the odds:

Phelps 2 / 1
Lochte 2 / 1
Field 5 / 1