|Born:||August 03, 1984|
|Hometown:||Daytona Beach, FL|
|Ht: / Wt:||6'2" / 185 lbs|
|Event(s):||200m back, 200m IM, 400m IM, 4x200m free relay|
Locking up gold
Ryan Lochte shred the lable of "Mr. Runner-up" in Beijing with his victory over U.S. teammate Aaron Peirsol in the 200m backstroke, Lochte's first individual Olympic gold medal. The two had shared the world record coming into the Olympics, but Lochte lowered it in the final with a time of 1:53.94. Peirsol, who was attempting to sweep the backstroke events at consecutive Olympics, instead took the silver in 1:54.33. Lochte finished the Games with bronze medals in the 200m and 400m IM and another gold in the 4x200m freestyle relay, where he helped shatter the world record.
Lochte qualified for three individual events in Beijing, finishing second in all three at Olympic Trials. First, Michael Phelps beat him out in the 400m IM, and both men finished under the previous world record. Later in the week, Aaron Peirsol tied Lochte's world record in the 200m back, with Lochte behind by .02 of a second. About 20 minutes later, in an unbelievably grueling double, Lochte returned to the pool to face Phelps, who lowered his own world record in the 200m IM to hold off Lochte. "There's a lot of different points in the race I could have changed to win," Lochte said at Trials. "So that's what I'm going to do. Beijing is going to be a lot different."
Sick of second
Lochte's big breakthrough came at the 2007 World Championships in Melbourne, when he upset teammate Peirsol in the 200m backstroke, taking the world record and winning his only individual gold medal of the meet. Lochte finished second to Peirsol in the 100m backstroke and to Michael Phelps in the 200m and 400m IM, with Peirsol and Phelps setting their own world records in each of the three races. Lochte also won gold and helped set a world record in the 4x200 freestyle relay, raising his medal total to two golds and three silvers.
Bringing the bling
Lochte also made waves out of the pool at the Worlds by wearing a silver and diamond grill (a dental accessory usually worn by rappers) on the medal stand to collect his silver for the 200m IM. Lochte said he brought the grill to Melbourne and his roommate, Cullen Jones, suggested he wear it if he won a medal. When he came out, Lochte couldn't stop laughing, because gold medalist Michael Phelps was laughing at him.
Lochte won a silver in Athens in the 200m IM, behind Phelps, and a gold in the 4x200 free relay. He says that race, where the Americans edged out the Australians, was the first time he got noticed in the swimming world. Before the Olympics, his only international experience was at the 2003 Pan Am Games, where he also won gold in the 4x200 free relay. Apart from winning a gold medal, Lochte's favorite part about Athens was the all-you-can-eat McDonald's in the athlete village. "That was probably the best thing ever," Lochte said. "I hope they have that again."
Though he has a reputation for being laid back, Lochte has a competitive streak and holds nothing back when he gets behind the blocks. "When the starter goes off, I don't know, something switches and I become a racer," Lochte said. "And when I get out, I'm laid-back Ryan." But don't be fooled by his demeanor: Lochte hates to lose.
When Lochte was three, and living in upstate New York, he was playing on an icy pool deck at Monroe Community College and fell in. His father quickly rescued him, but the story goes that Ryan was laughing, not crying, and at that point they knew he'd be a natural. His family moved from Bristol, N.Y., to Florida when Ryan was 12. His father, Steve, was his first coach at the Daytona Beach Swim Club.
Going with the flow
Lochte says he doesn't pay attention to being mentioned alongside Phelps and Peirsol as being among the best in the world and has a relaxed approach when it comes to competition. "I guess people, when they race against Michael Phelps or Aaron Peirsol, they're not racing to win, they're racing to get second," Lochte said. "I don't think that. I always feel like I can win."
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