Olympic Swimmer Ryan Lochte’s Rise to Fame

Winner Ryan Lochte (R) waves to a fan while standing beside Michael Phelps (L) following the final of the men's 400m Individual Medley during the 2012 US Olympic Team Trials on June 25, 2012 in Omaha, Nebraska.  FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/GettyImages

Michael Phelps may have been untouchable during the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, but this time around, Ryan Lochte is here to give the gold medalist some stiff competition.

"I think overall, I'm just a lot older, smarter, and a better athlete than I was going into Beijing," Lochte, 27, tells Us Weekly, who swam four events at the Games and took home two gold (one earned as a group) and two bronze. "I changed my diet and I started doing heavier weight lifting."

His training seems to already be paying off ahead of the upcoming London Summer Olympics, which kick off later this month. At the Olympic swim trials in June, Lochte defeated Phelps in the 400-meter individual medley (IM) finals — it was the same race where he nabbed the bronze medal behind Phelps (gold) and Hungarian swimmer Laszlo Cseh (silver) four years ago in China.

But the 6-foot-2 chiseled champion, who holds six Olympic medals (three gold, two silver and one bronze) has a surprisingly laid-back attitude when it comes to beating his U.S. teammate's record and the sport of swimming.

"If I beat him, I beat him. If I don't, I don't," Lochte tells Us about competing against Phelps, 27, during this summer's Games. "I'm not going to hold a grudge on him or anything."

PHOTOS: Love lives of athletes

"I'm not going to give up anything for it," the athlete, who has already nabbed spokesmodel gigs for Gillette and AT&T, tells Men's Journal of not letting his sport define who he is. "I'm still going to be exactly who I am and have fun with life. There's a lot of swimmers out there who make swimming their life, but for me, it's just a sport that I do."

Want more Olympics? Meet Team USA's families, go inside their homes (and gyms!), and more! Check out Us Weekly's Olympic collectors edition, "American Heroes," on newsstands now. Order at bn.com/usolympics.

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