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July 23, 2017

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Lochte aiming to match Phelps with eight golds

Having surpassed Michael Phelps as the top all-around swimmer this year, Ryan Lochte hopes to punctuate the fact with a Phelpsian performance this week.

Lochte wants to swim eight events over five days at the short-course world championships beginning on Wednesday. If he wins them all, he'll match the record eight golds Phelps won at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

"I think that's what he has in his mind," said U.S. men's head coach Jon Urbanchek, adding that the laid-back Lochte "is capable" of pulling off the feat.

His chances are a little easier in the absence of his top challenger in most events, Phelps.

"I wish he was here. I love racing against him but it's not my call, it's his call, and I'm sure he has a reason why," Lochte said in an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Lochte is listed to swim five individual events — the 100-, 200- and 400-meter individual medleys, plus the 200 freestyle and 200 backstroke. He'll also take part in the 400 and 800 free relays. The only question in his program is whether he'll race the 400 medley relay.

"If they put me in it I'll do it, but as far as I know I'm not," Lochte said. "I wouldn't mind doing it all. I wouldn't mind more racing. But it's the coaches' call."

Urbanchek indicated that Lochte will likely get the nod for the medley relay after Aaron Peirsol pulled out of the competition, allowing Lochte to swim the backstroke leg.

"But we have to give others a chance to swim and see how they perform," Urbanchek said. "Picking for the last relay is not a problem, because they have all swum events by then and we know who is hot."

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