Swimming World Magazine named Ryan Lochte the "Swimmer of the Year" in 2010 and again in 2011. The Florida native edged out Michael Phelps, the all-time leader for most Olympic gold medals, who won the honor six of the previous seven years.
Lochte shocked the swimming world by beating Phelps in the 200-meter freestyle event at the 2011 World Aquatic Championships in Shanghai, drumming up anticipation for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, in which he and Phelps will battle for gold in a number of events.
Despite the hype surrounding the young swimmer, the easygoing 26-year-old likes to keep things laid back and isn't that different from a typical American, telling a United Kingdom newspaper:
I'm not a perfect eater now. I still go to McDonald's or Taco Bell two or three times a month to help me relax.
Many now consider Lochte the favorite to take home gold medals in multiple events at the upcoming London Olympics, and "the Lochtenator" is inclined to agree, telling ESPN Magazine how beating Phelps, the most successful swimmer in recent history, readied him for the upcoming summer games:
Once I was able to beat Michael, it gave me a motivation, an edge. I told myself, "I can do this." Once I beat someone, they won't beat me again.
With the potential to challenge the reign of Phelps, Lochte's success didn't come "out of the blue."