I think Haley Graham had it right in Stick It.
"That's sixteen judges ready to tell us just how badly we suck. Sixteen people ready to tell us just how perfect we're not. But here we are chasing perfection. The problem is, perfection doesn't exist. But just try telling that to the judges. It doesn't matter how hard we run or how high we flip. Leave your hands on the vault table too long, deduction. If you use one arm instead of two, big deduction. And if your feet clip the vault before they hit the floor, you're done. So you say you want lyrics in your floor music…haha… huge deduction. The music finishes but you don't, two tenth deduction. It doesn't matter how well you do. It's how well you follow their rules. And that just blows."
No one's perfect, but Phelps is one of my hero's. He's worked hard and done more then most at what he loves (and something I love as well) and he's got the medals to prove it. There are not many people in the world who can hold themselves to the high standards of professional athletes. They are judges by everyone. Both Phelps and Lochte are very good at what they do. I'd place them both in the top 100 based on their athletic skills, though I do believe that Lochte can improve. He needs work on his long stroke and butterfly. And more distance training. Phelps has the stamina and burst speed for the short swims and freestyle, but relies on his legs too much for the backstroke. So they both have areas were they need improvement. Which is why they rarely compete against each other, they prefer different events.. they literally swim in different circles >.> (Sorry, had to)
If it comes down to records, Phelps has broken and currently holds more world records then Lochte and even though they don't swim against each other often, they are always competing against each other where the records are concerned.. and Phelps is winning, there.
I think, when a person has no competition except one person, it means they're one of the best.. right? But I'm curious, why do you think he rates so low if there is only one person (in your opinion) better then him?