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Phelpte – the Rafanole of swimming


 Phelpte with Laszlo Cseh (far right) at the Beijing Games. Will it be thus in Rio?

Phelpte with Laszlo Cseh (far right) at the Beijing Games. Will it be thus in Rio?

It’s as if one never said goodbye and the other was never injured.

Michael Phelps, on the comeback trail, aced his prelim heat in the 100 butterfly only to fall to archrival and good friend Ryan Lochte in the Arena Grand Prix final Thursday night.

"Down there at the turn I kind of peeked over and I saw him and almost started smiling," Lochte said later.

“Why?” Phelps countered, “because you were ahead?"

Is Phelpte a great rivalry or what? It’s as good as Rafanole, Ali-Frazier, Yanks-Bosox, Affirmed-Alydar. Surely, Michael, a poker devotee, understands what makes a rivalry special: I see your bet and raise you, while you counter. Back and forth, like a tennis match.

Michael is, of course, the more dominant swimmer. But Ryan bested him in a race Michael used to own.

The latest chapter isn’t over. It’s just beginning.