Born: 3 August 1984
Best known as: The swimmer who beat Michael Phelps to win gold at the 2012 London Olympics
Ryan Lochte is the free-spirited American swimmer who surprised the world by beating swimming legend Michael Phelps for gold at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Lochte was not unknown: He had already won six Olympic medals (including three gold) at previous Olympics in 2004 and 2008. But his powerful performance in London pushed him to international fame; the BBC called him a "brash rising star." The son of a swim coach, Ryan Lochte began swimming as a kid and soon developed a reputation as an eager competitor in the pool and a loosey-goosey prankster outside of it. He took his whimsical intensity to the University of Florida, and was a student there when he won his Athens gold medal as part of the American 4x200 meter relay team and finished second to Michael Phelps in the 200-meter individual medley. He then set world records in the 200-meter backstroke in both 25-meter pool (2006) and 50-meter pool (2007) versions, while continuing a spirited rivalry with Phelps. Ryan Lochte graduated from the University of Florida in 2007, and at Beijing in 2008, he won two gold medals and two bronze. That marked the beginning of his real rise to dominance: he was named World Swimmer of the year in both 2010 and 2011 (after Phelps had won the previous four years). At the 2012 Olympics he dominated in his first event, the 4x100 medley, to win gold and leave Phelps (a distant fourth) in his wake. He went on to win five medals in all at the 2012 Olympics -- two gold, two silver and a bronze -- to give him a total of 11 Olympic medals in all.
After winning his first gold medal at London, he flashed the “Ryan Lochte grill” — a sparkly rhinestone-studded cover for his teeth in the shape of a narrow stars-and-stripes American flag. He also has a tattoo of the Olympic rings on the inside of his right bicep… Ryan Lochte has “a pet Doberman named Carter, whom Ryan certainly considers man’s best friend,” according to a 2012 note on his personal website… “Jeah!” is Lochte’s “signature exclamation,” according to his official site.
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