Lochte, beaten by Mr. Agnel Sunday, finished a fading fourth Monday.
This is not an indictment of Lochte. Nor of Phelps for his own fourth-place finish Saturday. In the three years from Beijing to the 2011 world championships, those two had come to make us all believe that the impossible was not only possible, but to be expected. We set them on pedestals because there seemed nothing that they could not do. For that, and for the audacity of what they are attempting here, they should be celebrated.
But at the same time, perhaps it is only wise for us now to appreciate the enormity of what they have done by recognizing that, as great as America's dynamic duo surely is, there is greatness elsewhere to be celebrated. Indeed, in realizing that – and enjoying it – their accomplishments become that much more astounding.
And there was plenty to enjoy Monday.
Starting with Ritu Meilutyte. Who is she, and did anyone outside Vilnius know how to spell her name before her eye-opening heats Sunday? Clearly, English is not her first language, or maybe even her third. Yet it seemed that her comments after the race captured the moment precisely.
"I can't believe it. It's too much for me. I really can't say anything. It was hard and difficult. At the moment I can't speak too much."
You got the sense that, even in Lithuanian, she would have been a blathering wreck. Fifteen-year-olds aren't even allowed to compete in women's gymnastics at the Olympics. Meaning that all those tiny girls in leotards are wise old souls compared to Meilutyte.
At 17, Missy Franklin is virtually a pensioner.