As part of Metro's ongoing coverage leading up to the 2012 Olympic Games in London, we're introducing readers to the athletes who will be representing the United States. Previously: fencer Daryl Homer and gymnast Aly Raisman.
Ryan Lochte is the name to know in 2012.
A six-time Olympic medalist and holder of three world records, the Canandaigua, N.Y. native is considered among many to be the best swimmer in the world. Yes, even better than Michael Phelps.
The 27-year-old has been building an arsenal of super-human speed since the 2008 Olympics where he won two gold medals, but also finished behind Phelps and Hungarian swimmer László Cseh in two individual events.
Now, with the 2012 Olympic Games in London just days away, Lochte has emerged as the new face of the sport he's been training for since age 5.
Lochte, who has been known to wear diamond "grillz" over his teeth and sparkly high-top sneakers, has captured the attention of the world, in part, because of his relatable demeanor. He can often be heard repeating rapper Young Jeezy's famous "jeah!" as his own personal catchphrase.
With the chiseled body of an athlete and the bone structure of a male model, Lochte, who is half Cuban, is the major sex symbol of the London Olympics. He's managed to capitalize on the media frenzy, becoming the face of sponsors like Gatorade, Gillette and Nissan, and morphing himself into a household name in the months leading up to London.
But make no mistake — he is as serious an athlete as the world will see at the Olympics. Despite the Vogue photo spread and the scores of adoring fans, Lochte has one thing in mind: Gold.
Metro caught up with Lochte for an exclusive interview as he prepares to enter the world's spotlight at the 2012 Olympic Games.
Metro: What is the one thought that has been running through your mind most as you prepare for London?
Lochte: Things have been moving pretty fast since Olympic trials. I was lucky to get to go home for a couple of days before heading to training camp, so I could drive my new car that my sponsor Nissan delivered to me. I know that I have trained well for London, so I am feeling pretty confident as far as my training goes. I know that everyone else is going to bring their best game, so I guess I have to say that focusing on being the best swimmer in my events has been running through my mind mostly.
Who do you believe will be your biggest competition at the games?
I don't go into competition or get up on the blocks thinking who is my biggest competition, because I really feel that this is my time. I have prepared well by eating right, training hard and staying refueled and hydrated with all the great products provided to me by my sponsor, Gatorade. I know that I have done everything right for the games, so I am ready to go!
Do you have any lucky charms or superstitions you stick to before an event?
No, I do not have any superstitions or lucky charms before an event. At home, I would say that my dog, Carter, is my lucky charm though!
What is your pre-event ritual? Any songs you like to listen to or inspirational words you like to read?
I have rituals as far as what I eat when I compete and train. I use the Gatorade Prime, Pro Recover, G-Fit, Pro Energy Chews and Protein Recovery Shakes. I would have to say without those as part of my ritual of training, that I would not be the athlete I am today. And, of course, Gillette has provided me with the best razor for shaving down, too! Jeah!
Songs that I like to listen to: Lil Wayne "Sky's the Limit," by DJ Khaled, Kanye West and Rick Ross; Drake's "I Wish you Would"; French Montana's "Pop That"; Drake's "Made"; Lil Wayne's "Shine". I love Abraham Lincoln and Albert Einstein quotes.
What's your favorite meal before a competition?
My pre-event meal could be a salad with some protein.
What is your diet like when you are not strictly training for a big event? Do you ever let yourself splurge or indulge in a favorite guilty pleasure?
I would say having a pizza and wings are my guilty pleasures. I don't eat them a lot anymore, but think anything in moderation is okay.
As a native New Yorker, do you have any message you'd like to send to the people of New York state who will be cheering you on?
I would like to thank everyone from New York. Some of my biggest fans are New Yorkers and I still have family there! I really appreciate their support as I head to London! I love New York!