Is Ryan Lochte just having more fun with Michael Phelps or does he really think Phelps will attempt to compete in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics?
At the news conference for U.S. swimming last week where Phelps was introduced as the flag bearer for the opening ceremony, Lochte predicted Phelps would not, in fact, conclude his career after these Olympics. And that was before Phelps won four golds with two races left in Rio.
Lochte said the same thing after the 2012 Games in London, and he was right.
This morning, Lochte kept the same theme going on the "Today" show about Phelps and Tokyo, saying "I guarantee he will be there."
Phelps has already come back from retirement once, but has said he plans to retire after Rio. He's consistently used words like "final" and "last" when describing races this week.
But during the pre-Olympic news conference, he played along with Lochte, saying Boomer, his 3-month-old son, would be in Rio to watch him in his "potential" last Olympics. He joked that he only said it to prevent the media from bringing it up if he unexpectedly changes his mind about 2020.
But the 31-year-old Phelps also said later in the news conference that "I know I'm not" swimming past Rio.
During his "Today" show appearance Lochte never said Phelps will be swimming in Tokyo, just that "he will be there." Phelps could easily be there as a TV analyst or as a coach.
Later on "Today," Phelps' mother, Debbie, and fiancee, Nicole Johnson, appeared with Boomer, who pretty much slept through it.
When asked about Lochte's earlier comments about Tokyo in 2020, Debbie Phelps said, "That would be wonderful," and that she had just the race picked out for Phelps and Lochte.
In their signature race Thursday night, the 200 IM, Phelps won gold and Lochte came in fifth, looking very much like a 32-year-old who tired at the finish. Phelps has won the race in four straight Olympics, with Lochte coming in second the first three.
If they do decide to swim in 2020, and Lochte said this morning that he really needed a break from swimming, Phelps would be 35 and Lochte 36.