With the 2012 Summer Olympics in full swing (or swim), records of all kinds are being made. Of course, with American swimmers Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps, those records mean performance in the pool. But what about popularity on Twitter? Social media has dominated coverage of this Olympics unlike any other and we’re here to update you on just what kinds of records the U.S.’s top two swimmers are breaking—outside the pool.
Going into the 2012 London Olympics, Lochte earned the top spot with Twitter users’ comments. According to social analysis company Attensity, who produced a report analyzing social media and the 2012 Summer Olympics for the month of June 23-July23, Lochte and fellow swimmer Phelps were the most discussed Olympians. While Phelps generated more tweets, comments discussing Lochte had an astounding 99 percent positive feedback for the swimmer.
But with his feat on Tuesday, Phelps became the most decorated Olympian with 19 medals. He teamed up with Lochte, Connor Dwyer, and Ricky Berens in the 4 x 200m freestyle relay to win the gold medal. The American swimmer might not have blown up the Twitterverse, but he did earn congratulations from the network’s celebrities of all nationalities and occupations. Current U.S. President Barack Obama, fellow U.S. Olympic medalists Shaun White and Apolo Ohno, Australian swimming medalist Stephanie Rice, rapper Lil’ Wayne, and Brazilian soccer legend Pele all tweeted their congratulations to the most medaled Olympian. The Baltimore native also received praise from other athletes in the area, like Ravens WR Torrey Smith. Phelps, being the avid tweeter he is, responded with messages of “thanks” and the like.
One legend whose congratulations were absent from the Twitterverse was the very Olympian whose record Phelps surpassed. Soviet gymnast great Larisa Latynina, who dominated the Olympic gymnastic scene from 1956-1964 with 18 medals, isn’t on the social networking site. However, she has expressed her admiration for his feat. In an interview with Reuters, Latynina said that she is “very pleased” to see that a “talented Olympian” like Phelps has appeared to finally break her 48-year-old record. In fact, according to Yahoo! Sports, Latynina submitted a request to the IOC to present Phelps with his record-breaking 19th medal. She was, however, denied.
So, for now, Phelps can enjoy the celebrity praise and the gravity of his feat—that is before he begins his final Olympic swimming events. All in all, he could outpace Latynina in the medal count when the 2012 Olympics is all over with 22 medals.