After the 2008 Beijing Olympics, it was easy to forget that Michael Phelps, who took home eight gold medals, wasn’t the only swimmer representing the USA. But for this summer’s 2012 London Olympics, a certain Phelps teammate has Us Weekly standing at attention: Ryan Lochte. As the 27-year-old swimmer embarks on his most promising Olympics yet, here’s what else there is to know about the athlete who brought home Team USA’s first gold medal at the 2012 London Games.
1. He has a few trademarks. Mention “Ryan Lochte” to any of his teammates and they’ll tell you about “jeah” and his decked-out smile — gold grillz — on the winner’s block. “He knows exactly who he is, wearing the grillz on the podium, making up ‘jeah,’ his signature catch phrase. He’s so genuine with who he is,” eleven-time Olympic gold medalist Natalie Coughlin tells Us. (Lochte says that “jeah” is inspired by rapper Young Jeezy. “It means happy, it means good,” the chiseled champ said during a 2009 interview.)
2. All his injuries surprisingly are not swimming-related. Evidently, the athlete is quite the thrill-seeker on land. According to a March article in The Telegraph, “he had knee surgery after a breakdancing accident; he has broken an ankle three times skateboarding, and fractured a shoulder falling out of a tree while playing hide-and-seek with his little brother.”
3. He has dreams of moonlighting as a fashion designer. “I really want to get into designing my own business suit,” he tells Us. “I’ve designed a couple suits for myself that I’ve worn in the past, and I have a good idea of what I want and need to use. [My designs] will have more of a rock star look to it.”
4. He consumes about 8,000 – 12,000 calories a day. An Olympic athlete has got to eat, but some may find it surprising that Lochte’s diet is four to five time the amount the average man needs to nourish himself. On his approved list of fare? Peanut butter sandwiches, eggs, pancakes, steak and a ton of Gatorade.
5. He has zero animosity towards Michael Phelps. Lochte will be the first to debunk rumors that the Team USA teammates go head-to-head anywhere but in the pool. “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.”
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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