Ryan Lochte's Rio games had mostly been building up to the 200-meter individual medley, where he would go toe-to-toe with friendly rival and teammate Michael Phelps. It was expected to be the final time those two battled in an Olympic pool, 12 years after their first head-to-head matchup in the event.

While Lochte led after the first 100 meters, he slipped further and further back, finishing in fifth place - out of the medals for the first time in his Olympic career in this event. He won silver in 2004 and 2012, and bronze in 2008. Phelps, meanwhile, cruised to his fourth straight gold in the 200-meter IM.

The fifth-place finish marked the end of Lochte's run in Rio.

Ryan Lochte remains noncommittal regarding his Olympic future. USATSI

"It's been a long journey," Lochte told NBC Sports after the race. "I just wish I did a little better. I felt great before the race. I guess I just didn't have it tonight. Kind of bummed, but I gave it my all, and that's all I can ask for."

Now the question becomes if Lochte will make it to another Olympics. The 32-year-old swimmer was not ready to commit to any decision, but told NBC Sports he is going to need a break for a little while to mentally reset.

"Who knows? I might be back," Lochte said hopefully.

When the Olympics are held in Tokyo in 2020, Lochte will turn 36 during the Games. If he were to continue training and make the team in four years, he would become the oldest American man to compete in swimming in an individual event since 1904. That distinction currently belongs to 2016 teammate Anthony Ervin, who is competing in Rio at 35 years old. Ervin will be swimming for gold in the men's 50-meter freestyle Thursday.

It's not completely out of the question, but Lochte's prep for the 200-meter IM certainly had a feeling of finality to it. Perhaps that was because Phelps has continually said that Rio will be his last Olympics, but the clock is ticking for Lochte, too.

If he isn't back, Lochte will have had an absolutely remarkable Olympic career. The gold medal he earned with the 4x200-meter freestyle relay team earlier in Rio was the sixth gold medal and 12th medal overall -- three silver, three bronze -- in his career. He swam in 14 total Olympic finals and missed out on medals only twice.

No matter what he decides, Lochte will go down as one of the all-time greats.