Ryan Lochte wishes old sparring partner Michael Phelps would make a comeback but says he must put his former US team mate and good friend out of his mind if he is to increase his tally of world championship medals.
Phelps, who ended his glittering career after last year's London Olympics, amassed 26 world titles, while Lochte owns 12 ahead of the latest championships in Barcelona starting on Sunday.
"There's no doubt he (Phelps) is going to go down in history as the best swimmer ever and I was just happy I was a part of that," Lochte said at the US team's pre-competition briefing.
"But I can't really focus just on him. There are others out there who are finding different ways every year to get a lot faster. I just have to worry about myself, step on those blocks and race."
Some media reports have suggested Phelps may be preparing a comeback, something Lochte said he would welcome.
Phelps's former coach Bob Bowman, who is the head men's coach for the US team, said he was unaware of any such plans.
"My answer to that is always when I see it I'll believe it," he told reporters.
"I have had no indications at this point in terms of him coming in swimming or showing an interest to get in any kind of programme."