London – Ryan Lochte will have to wait until the next Olympics to fulfill his ambition of being the golden king of the pool, something he said he wanted to be during his time at the London Olympics.
The swimmer concluded his third games with two golds, two silvers, one bronze and a fourth-place finish. Impressive, but not quite up to the high expectations Lochte had set for himself.
Still, he said: "For the most part I'm pretty satisfied."
Lochte closed his meet Thursday night with a bronze in the 200-meter backstroke and a silver in the 200 individual medley behind Michael Phelps. It was the last competitive race between the longtime rivals since Phelps is retiring after the Olympics.
"Yeah, I wanted to get all golds in my events, but you know it didn't happen," Lochte said. "I'm going to have to live with that and move on and learn from it, and try not to make the same mistakes in the next four years."
Lochte plans to swim on to the 2016 Rio Games, but he's going to make at least one important change.
"I'm going to be training differently," he said. "I got a birthday tomorrow. It's definitely time to take it down a little."
He turns 28 on Friday and his immediate plans included eating at McDonald's, which is free in the athletes’ village. Lochte said he had the fast-food chain's meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner over 10 days at the 2008 Beijing Games.
"I witnessed that," a smiling Phelps said.
Lochte won one more medal in London than he did four years ago, when he had two golds and two bronzes.
"How many people walked out with five medals? It's way above average," his coach Gregg Troy said. "It's just if you come with real high expectations sometimes you get them and sometimes you don't."
Lochte opened the swimming competition this time with a dominating victory in the 400 IM, while Phelps straggled home in fourth.
"That was definitely one of the greatest feelings, and knowing that my whole entire family was right there cheering for me was pretty amazing," he said.
Troy said he's talked to his star swimmer about exploring some other events.
"With him getting a little bit older, you take that 400 IM out of the program and everything looks a lot different," Troy said. "His time last year in the 200 freestyle was better, but it was the first event of the meet."
Lochte pulled off a tough double on his last night in the pool, swimming the 200 back and then returning 31 minutes later for the 200 IM final.
"Anytime you're swimming in back-to-back events, especially at a level such as the Olympics, is tremendously hard," he said. "I've been putting in that extra work so I can do those doubles. I'm not going to change that. I love racing. That's why I swim. It's fun to me. So I'm going to keep doing those crucial doubles no matter how bad it hurts."
Phelps knows a thing or two about doubling up at major international meets, and he complimented Lochte on his ability to do it, too.
"It just takes a lot of time to really be able to understand how stressful it is on your body mentally and physically," Phelps said. "It is tough to get up and race the best in the world every single event. Ryan has built his way up to doing it here and he'll probably do it again in four years."
The two rivals and friends sat next to each other at the medalists news conference after joking around on the medals podium.
"We've been racing for eight years now and the rivalry we created has been tremendous for the sport," Lochte said. "Hopefully I'll still be able to see him around."
Having a rival of Phelps' ability in his own country pushed Lochte to new heights, and he knows it'll be an adjustment without him.
"But there's a bunch of competitors out there in the world and hopefully in the next four years I'll create another rivalry with someone else," he said.
Phelps tabbed 200 butterfly gold medalist Chad le Clos of South Africa as a worthy rival for Lochte in the future, and Troy agreed.
"That South African boy is really good," he said. "We're going to miss Michael. Michael and Ryan going head-to-head has been great for the sport."
A moderator eventually told the media that Lochte needed to leave, drawing a playful protest from Phelps.
"He's done. Why does he get to leave?" he said. "I have two more races. I got to go."
Lochte stood up, patted Phelps on the shoulder and told him, "Have fun."
Based on reporting by the Associated Press