Former Gator, Ryan Lochte may be one of this Summer Olympics’ biggest stars.
Lochte’s main challenger will be Michael Phelps, America’s brightest star the past two Olympics. Phelps has won 16 medals, 14 of them were gold.
But swimming may be getting a new champion for the 2012 Games in London.
Lochte, who is half Cuban, swam in Phelps’s shadow in Athens and Beijing but in 2012, he’s primed for a breakout.
He dominated the world championships last year, winning six medals, including five gold, and he set two world records and beating Phelps twice.
“I know i have a big target on my back now and I think that’s what is motivating me in this next coming year in my training,” he said.
And that training continues where it all started: in Gainesville pools. His coach there will coach the entire U.S. Swim Team in London.
“That’s basically where my swimming kind of took off was when I went to college there. I had the best coaches in the world, just everything. The whole atmosphere was just perfect for me, and I love it. I wouldn’t give it up for anything,” he said.
But Lochte is no stranger to the big stage. He already has six Olympic medals to his credit, but this time around, the world swimmer of the year has upped the ante.
“My training is a lot different. I’m doing a lot more weightlifting than I did in the past, just trying to put on more muscle. The events that I swim, I need that. And I’ve been eating a lot healthier than I did the past.”
This includes out the fast food habit.
“It started right after 2008. It’s like a four-year process. I’m just taking it step by step. This is my last big year, where leading up until 2012, that I just gotta put everything into it,” he said.
He says his goal is swim for as many medals as he can, even if it comes at the expense of his friend and rival.
“What is cool about it is, no matter what the outcome is, if I beat him or if he beats me, no matter what, we are still going to be friends, and I think that’s definitely a great rivalry right there.”