Born: 3 August 1984
Birthplace: Rochester, New York
Best known as: The Olympic swimmer who did not really get robbed in Rio de Janiero
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 -- then got into a public dispute with Brazilian police at the 2016 Summer Olympics. Ryan Lochte was not unknown before London: he had already won six Olympic medals (including three gold) at previous Olympics in 2004 and 2008. But his powerful performance in 2012 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. Lochte went on to win five medals in all at the 2012 Olympics -- two gold, two silver and a bronze. His fame led to a short-lived reality TV show in 2013, titled What Would Ryan Lochte Do?
, and a 2016 appearance on Dancing With the Stars
. Lochte continued his competitive run at the 2016 Summer Olympics, winning gold as part of the US 4x200 meter freestyle relay team to give him a total of 12 Olympic medals in all. After competing, Lochte was at the center of a bizarre contretemps with police in Rio de Janiero. On the morning of August 14th, 2016, Lochte and fellow swimmers Jack Conger, Jimmy Feigen and Gunnar Bentz claimed that they had been forced from their taxi and robbed at gunpoint after leaving a party early that morning. The story never quite made sense, and after three days of investigation, the police said that they believed that the four had fabricated the robbery story. They said that in fact, the quartet had torn down a poster in a gas station in Barra da Tijuca and urinated on the premises after being refused entry into the bathroom, then were detained by guards who forced them to leave money to pay for damages. Police briefly prevented Conger, Feigen and Bentz from leaving the country (after Lochte had already flown home from Brazil). Feigen paid a fine of $10,800 in restitution, and the three were released. Lochte did not recant his story, exactly, but issued a statement on Twitter, saying "I want to apologize for my behavior last weekend. For not being more careful and candid in how I described the events of that early morning and for my role in taking the focus away from the many athletes fulfilling their dreams of participating in the Olympics." Brazilian police later charged him with filing a false police report.
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. Ryan Lochte also has a tattoo of the Olympic rings on the inside of his right bicep… Ryan Lochte bleached his hair white for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero… 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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