Lochte an inspiration as Coventry seeks eighth medal


Kirsty Coventry has been inspired by training partner Ryan Lochte as she prepares to try and make history at Rio 2016.

A top-three finish in either the 100 or 200 metre backstroke in Rio would see Coventry own the most individual Olympic medals of any female swimmer.

Like Lochte, who she trains alongside in Charlotte, North Carolina, Coventry boasts seven individual medals, having claimed three at the 2004 Athens Games and four in Beijing four years later.

In Athens, she won gold, silver and bronze in the respective backstroke events and 200m individual medley. In Beijing, Coventry added the 400IM to her repertoire and claimed silver in the event to go along with silvers in the 100 back and 200 IM and a gold medal, with a world-record time, in the 200 backstroke. 

Now 32, she would appear to face a tough task to add to her collection in Rio, with younger rivals such as Australia's Emily Seebohm and Katinka Hosszu of Hungary displaying much stronger form in the build-up to the Games.

However, Coventry cites Lochte, who turns 32 on Wednesday, as a source of motivation.

She told Omnisport: "When Ryan gets in the water, he kills it. We are of similar age and I'm like, 'How are you doing that?'

"It's incredible that he's been swimming for that long and he is such a great training partner, I've learned a lot from him."

Coventry, who currently shares the women's record of seven individual medals with Krisztina Egerszegi, is hoping to make the most of her own vast experience at her fifth Olympics.

"It's about knowing my body and making sure that I get enough rest because as you get older you can't keep pounding (out yardage), because you'll break yourself down," she said.

"I've never had a perfect race, either. There's always been room for improvement in underwaters, starts and getting off the walls quicker, those are all ways that I can be quicker."

Reflecting on her maiden Olympics in Sydney, some 16 years ago, Coventry added: "I just remember being completely overwhelmed in a good and exciting way.

"Seeing all these great swimmers and seeing how Australia loved swimming, it was such a great experience for my first Olympics and that drove me to keep pushing for more."