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Ryan Lochte on Swimming, Clothing Design and Everything Else

What does your normal diet consist of?

I don’t really focus on my nutrition. All I know is that I have to intake about 8,000-12,000 calories a day while training. So that means I am eating constantly. My nutritionist back at school said, ‘If you’re ever hungry during your day, something’s wrong.’

What is your weekly workout schedule?

I swim nine times a week -- Monday-Saturday, Sundays off. I swim about 30-35 hours a week, so it’s almost like a full-time job. But that’s including ... I do weight lifting three times a week for an hour and a half and I do dry land -- sit-ups, running, medicine ball passes, stuff like that. Anything for the core. I do that for an hour three times a week.

I usually swim about anywhere from 12,000-16,000 meters a day when I do doubles, when I do singles it’s about 6,000-7,000. It’s about 80,000 [meters] a week.

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NEW YORK -- U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte has it all, from world records and Olympic gold medals to boyish looks and good fashion sense. He was recently in New York City with management team to work on securing sponsorships and other deals.

Lochte also spent some time training at Asphalt Green, an aquatic facility on the east side. After his workout, the 24-year-old sat down with Universal Sports to discuss swimming, clothing design and everything in between.
Talk a little bit about Beijing.

First of all, I love traveling. With the opportunities that I have with swimming, I am able to travel a lot. I’ve been there before for a swim meet a couple years before that. I did all the sight seeing [then], so this time it was taking in the whole Olympic experience. The [Olympic] village was awesome, every venue that they did was top of the line. It was definitely one of the best Olympics that I’ve ever been a part of.

How was the pollution?

When we first got there, the air was bad. You couldn’t really see 50 feet in front of you. But, I want to say in two days that we were there, they had these things where they shoot this gun with pellets into the air. It breaks up the clouds ... it was really weird. They broke it up and it just started getting really clear.

How did you like the Water Cube?

It was the fastest pool I’ve ever been in. Just the whole venue, the whole seating area, the pool itself, the cube on the outside ... everything was just top of the line. They really outdid themselves.

What makes a pool fast?

Water? I don’t know [laughs]. I guess it would have to be the depth because if the pool is shallow, there is a lot of turbulence in the water and it slows you down. The deeper it is, all the waves and water get pushed down and it just disappears in deep water. So I think the perfect depth, I want to say it’s nine feet all the way across. And no gutters. In some pools there are gutters. If there are gutters, the wave hits the gutter and bounces back and it goes back into the pool. If you don’t have gutters it just gets flushed out on the deck.

Tell me about the 200m backstroke race you won in Beijing.

It was funny because in the 200 backstroke ... the suit that I wear for the 200 backstroke is legs. It’s from my hips all the way down to my ankles. And there’s a string that you’re supposed to tie and I don’t know why but I completely forgot about tying my suit. So they said, ‘Swimmers, jump in.’ As soon as I jumped in, my suit blew up into a parachute. All this water rushed in, there’s air, water in there. I was freaking out. I am at the Olympics, I forgot to tie my suit, how is this gonna happen?

I didn’t have time to tie it so I didn’t worry about it. When I did my start, I remember kicking underwater and all this water rushing in and [my suit] is going [makes gestures with his hands to demonstrate his suit filling up and bubbling out]. The whole race, I was thinking about my suit. The whole race, I was like, ‘This can’t be happening to me. This is my one chance and I am gonna blow it.’

How did you set the world record while wearing a suit with water in it?

I have no idea. I honestly think if I would’ve tied my suit and there wouldn’t have been any water rushing through it, I think I could’ve gone at least a second faster. I was ahead of Aaron Peirsol because he was right next to me. We were dead even the whole way. Going into the last 50 [meters], I remember flipping right before him. Usually my underwaters are my specialty, so I remember kicking underwater -- I saw him come up -- but I was just kicking underwater. And then at the very end I just leaned my head back, closed my eyes and just focused.

You won the bronze medal in the 200m and 400m IM races. Were you disappointed?

My first event was the 400m IM that I bronzed in. If I wasn’t sick, I think I would’ve done a lot better. I got really sick when I first got to Beijing and I think that was a factor in my performance throughout the meet. After my 400 IM I got better as the days went on, so I was able to recover for the backstroke.

The 200 IM, that was right after my 200 backstroke. I had 22 minutes in between each race. It was hard. I remember by the time I got out of the pool, I walked around in through the media and I walked down. By the time I got into the warm-down pool, I could only do one lap and then I had to get out and go to the ready room for my next event. I was sitting there ready for the 200 IM and I was still breathing heavily from the 200 backstroke. I couldn’t catch my breath so it was a hard double-double.

How did you get sick in Beijing?

When you go different countries, our team had meetings that year. They tell you what not to do, what to do when you go to this country. Well, [in] one of their meetings [they said] don’t use the tap water to brush your teeth, drink out of, whatever. I think I slept through it, or I wasn’t paying attention [laughs] ... because when I went there [to Beijing], the first thing I started using was tap water to brush my teeth. Next thing you know I was sick, I had the stomach flu, all this stuff. As soon as I stopped using the tap water, it went away. We got there Aug. 4 and I didn’t swim my first race until Aug. 9, so I was pretty much sick for about six, seven days.

Talk about the rivalry you have with Aaron Peirsol. Are you good friends too?

Before, we really didn’t have a rivalry. In 2004 and 2005 I never did backstroke. I was just an IMer and freestyler. So we were just good friends. We were talking about surfing, we love to surf and skateboard, stuff like that. Later on in the years I started swimming backstroke and we started competing against each other. We have a big rivalry going but it’s fun though. Peirsol, even though that when we’re going against each other we both want to win, at the end of the race he’s my good friend, I’m his good friend.

Are you close with Michael Phelps?

Yeah, me and Michael are good friends. He’s probably one of the biggest rivals I have. Not only in the IMs, but now he’s starting to swim backstroke so we’re gonna have a rivalry in there, freestyle, everything. But it’s a good rivalry. Win or lose, it doesn’t matter – well, it matters – but at the end of the race we’re still good friends.

What was it like being a part of and seeing Michael Phelps make history in Beijing?

It was awesome. What that guy can do in the water is definitely amazing. We definitely support him in any way he can. Being a part of our team, it’s a great honor. And being on the same team and swimming in the same pool, it’s definitely an honor. I look up to him.

Where do you train and who is your coach?

My coach is the head coach at the University of Florida, his name is Gregg Troy. I train with the team there. We have a post-grad group of people that are already done with college. With me are a couple of the other guys that were seniors last year on the university team that are still swimming.

What are your goals for the rest of the year?

Right now I’m back into hard training. The next two meets before World Trials [the Charlotte UltraSwim and the Santa Clara Grand Prix] ... I just want to get experience -- racing experience -- because being out of competition you kinda lose that racing edge and I don’t want to lose that.

What got you started into designing clothing and doing modeling?

I am not considered a model, that’s just not me. I’m an athlete. I’m a swimmer that does photo shoots periodically for my sponsors, for just ... in general. I’m more of an athlete, but I’ve always been into fashion. Ever since I was little, I’ve always liked high-end brands, looking nice and sharp ... and putting my own personality into it too. I have a little bit more of a hip, rock n’ roll style, tying in with business wear. That’s the kind of things I like and maybe eventually -- I know it’s gonna take a lot of years -- but maybe eventually down the road I want to develop my own clothing line. That would be awesome. I know swimming’s more important right now, but maybe eventually when swimming’s done I’ll start working towards that idea.

Right now, I am giving [Speedo] different ideas for different swimsuits. The suit that I was wearing earlier, I gave them an idea for that. There were board shorts that we wore for the Olympic team that I gave ideas for.

What do you think of the LZR suit and FINA’s new rules regarding bodysuits?

All I can say is the LZR suit is the fastest suit in the world. I don’t think there’s another suit out there that can compete against it. I’ve worn all different suits and the one that I stick by the most, that I rely on the most, is Speedo suits. The LZR ... is just out of this world.

You’re gonna probably laugh at me, but when I put it on I feel like I’m a superhero. I feel like I can take on anything. When you put that on you’re cut, you’re 10-feet tall, you can just take on the world. That’s what I feel when I put it on and I think it helps with your mentality in the water. Once you put on that suit, you’re like, ‘I’m ready to race. Let’s do this.’

What did you think of Jason Lezak’s stunning relay swim in Beijing?

They jumped in and we were so excited. I remember Eric Vendt [of Team USA] grabs me and he was like, ‘Ryan. We just lost this, gosh.’ I was like, ‘No wait, it’s not over yet Hold on.’

Going down to the last 50 [meters], he was catching up a little. Just by a little. I was like, ‘Oh, he’s got a shot.’ As soon as he flipped, he gained so much. We were just squeezing each other, holding onto each other and screaming our heads off. In the last 15 meters he caught up and they were dead even. The whole crowd just goes nuts. Everyone’s just jumping on their seats. As soon as we saw that we won, Vendt dives on the bleacher. I jump on top of him. And then like five or six people from the U.S. team jump on top of us. There were people from Brazil that jumped on top of us. So we had a big ol’ mosh pit just celebrating in the bleachers. It was so much fun. We were just going nuts, we all lost our voices after that race. Michael should definitely thank Jason for that one.


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bullet GALLERY: Lochte in Beijing
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