10 Things You Didn’t Know About Olympic Swimmer Ryan Lochte
For more than a decade, Michael Phelps has been the undisputed star of male competitive swimming. But that may change when 27-year-old Ryan Lochte competes at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London and vies for the title of the fastest swimmer alive.
To get to know this athlete better, here are 10 things you may not know about the Olympic hopeful.
Fast Facts About Ryan Lochte
Lochte was born on August 3, 1984 in the relatively small city of Canandaigua in upstate New York. Never heard of it before? Don’t worry, neither have we. But Lochte is in good company since Kristen Wiig of ‘Bridesmaids’ and ‘SNL’ fame also hails from there.
He Plans to Dominate the 2012 Summer Olympics
Lochte won’t say which events he’ll compete in, but it seems likely he’ll swim the 200-meter individual medley and the 200-meter backstroke. In addition, it’s likely that he’ll participate in the 100-meter freestyle, the 100-meter butterfly and the 50-meter freestyle. Lochte simply told ESPN that he’ll “swim as many events as he possibly can” in the upcoming games.
He’s Got Too Many Awards and Medals to Count
Lochte holds world records in the 4×200-meter freestyle relay, the 200-meter individual medley and the 400-meter individual medley. He’s also earned the World Swimmer of the Year Award and the American Swimmer of the Year Award twice. Lochte has been named the FINA Swimmer of the Year on two separate occasions, and he’s also won an amazing 57 medals — 37 gold, 11 silver and 9 bronze — in a variety of major international competitions.
He Trains Relentlessly
Lochte lives on the University of Florida campus where he regularly undergoes a grueling training regimen. As part of his preparation for the games, he swims for a total of 24 hours each week up to an incredible 70,000 meters or more, weight trains for six hours a week and completes a two-hour intensive workout to improve his core strength.
He Wasn’t Always So Dedicated to Swimming
As a child, Lochte wasn’t particularly interested in swimming, and would often horse around during classes run by his father, who was a swim instructor. “I would send him to go shower when he was messing around,” said his father. “He spent more time in the showers than he did in the pool.” But that all changed when 14-year-old Lochte lost at the Junior Olympics. “I suddenly said, ‘I’m sick of losing.’ After that I trained hard and I never lost there again,” he said.
His mom also had an enormous impact on his athletic career. “If it wasn’t for my mom, I don’t know where I’d be,” said Lochte in an interview for P&G’s “Raising an Olympian” series. “If she had a tighter leash on me, I think I’d hate swimming.”
He Has a Friendly Rivalry With Michael Phelps
Although he’s friendly with fellow teammate Phelps, the two share an intense rivalry and have been waging a close battle for dominance during the US Olympic trials. During the 200-meter freestyle, for example, Lochte narrowly beat Phelps in a preliminary heat, but Phelps ultimately won the finals by a mere five one-hundredths of a second.
Still, the fact that he bested Phelps has inspired Lochte to push even harder. “Once I was able to beat Michael, it gave me a motivation, an edge. I told myself, I can do this. Once I beat someone, they won’t beat me again,” he said.
He’s Been Known to Wear Diamond-Encrusted Grills
Lochte has worn different diamond-encrusted grills on more than one occasion on the winners’ podium, a tradition that initially started as a dare in 2007.
“I had these grills in my bag — I don’t even know how I got them — and I pulled them out and showed a friend. He was like, ‘Oh man! If you get a medal, bro, you gotta wear those.’ The next day I won a medal, and I wore them out there. It was the funniest thing,” he said.
In London, he plans on sporting a red, white and blue grill, naturally.
He Even Does Commercials
Lochte has sponsorship deals with Speedo, USA Swimming, Gatorade, Mutual of Omaha, Gillette, Procter & Gamble, Ralph Lauren, AT&T and Nissan. And thanks to his all-American good looks and laid back charm, he’s also natural when it comes to filming TV spots.
He Does an Incredible Amount of Charity Work
As befitting any athlete with star power, Lochte uses his clout to promote various charities, including the National Parkinson Foundation, the Mac Crutchfield Fund (an organization named after a USA Swim Team member who tragically drowned in 2008), and Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, which is especially close to his heart since the disease claimed a member of his family.
He’s a Bona Fide Sex Symbol
The New York Times recently gushed over Lochte’s “twinkling blue eyes, aquiline nose and dimpled smile,” and the Olympic Talk blog called him “the face of America’s 2012 Olympic team.” And with good reason. He’s only the fourth man ever to appear on the cover of Vogue, and Men’s Fitness ranked him number one on its list of best summer bodies. To further prove that he’s a certifiable Olympic beefcake, he even has a fitness DVD on the way.