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Lochte vs. Phelps: An end to a 12-year rivalry?

Lochte vs. Phelps: An end to a 12-year rivalry
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Story highlights

  • Friends out of the water, Phelps and Lochte have been swimming rivals for nearly 12 years
  • Both may take a break from the sport after the Rio Olympics
  • Phelps clinched a gold medal in the 200m IM Thursday, while Lochte trailed in fifth

(CNN)This year might be the last time spectators can see two particular swimming greats go head to head.

Olympians Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps could be putting their 12-year rivalry -- one that has dominated the world of swimming -- to rest after competing in this year's summer Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro.
"They're friends out of the water," Ileana Lochte, mother of the famed swimmer, told Brianna Keilar on "New Day. "And in the water, they're just competitors. They both love to compete. It just makes it fun."
    In their final showdown in Rio, Phelps claimed his 22nd Olympic gold medal in the the 200-meter individual medley -- an event that often saw Phelps and Lochte nearly deadlocked in previous races. This time, Lochte took fifth in that race.
    Lochte and Phelps' unique relationship has been closely followed by sports fans for more than a decade, with the two first competing against each other on the international stage during the 2004 Olympic games in Athens.
    Often swimming neck and neck all the way to the finish in events, Lochte and Phelps reserve their friendship for land but maintain a fierce rivalry in the water.
    "I don't think Ryan would be where he's at if it wasn't for Michael," Lochte said. "They push each other...it shows that you can be friends and still compete against each other. "
    Both also took home gold medals after being a part of the winning 4x200 free relay team, along with fellow teammates Conor Dwyer and Townley Haas.
    Lochte is stepping out of the swimming spotlight after this summer's Olympic games to take a break from the sport, his mother said.
    Could their be another swimmer to fill the gap of Lochte's famously flamboyant style, including even green hair? Doubtful.
    "(His hair) was white when it started," Lochte's mother said. "I almost died when I saw it. Then I figured, I can't do anything. I'm getting used to him doing these crazy things before championships."