Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte: Creating Twitter Traffic

Erin Quinn@@ErinQuinn11Contributor IIIJuly 19, 2012

OMAHA, NE - JUNE 30:  Michael Phelps looks on after he competed in the second semifinal heat of the Men's 100 m Butterflyduring Day Six of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Swimming Team Trials at CenturyLink Center on June 30, 2012 in Omaha, Nebraska.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images


U.S. Olympic Swimmers Tweeting and Teasing from Swim Camp in Vichy, France

After ratcheting up eight Gold Medals at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and getting more sponsorships than any American in swimming history, Michael Phelps let FINA know that he wasn’t happy with their 2012 Olympic cap rules. These new rules only allow the competitor to have their name and country’s flag on one side and a small tag for their sponsor on the other.

Phelps tweeted earlier today, “Front and back of our caps...We used to be able to have front and back side with flags, but for some reason there are rules that tell us we cant do that anymore? Smh gotta love an organizing committee telling us we can't do that anymore."

The tweet included a link to a photo showing a white cap with the flag and "Phelps" written under it in black letters on one side; the other side has a small Speedo logo.

In Beijing, Phelps, who broke Mark Spitz’s record of seven Gold Medals in one Olympic Games, wore a black swimming cap with his name and flag on both sides.

He got some support from his fellow teammate and 4x200-meter freestyle relay Gold Medalist in 2008 Ricky Berens, who responded via Twitter, “can’t believe they let us put our name on it!” International swimming's governing body FINA issued the new same-side guidelines last year; they were included in IOC rules for London posted in May.

Still, the aqua-blogosphere generated a tidal wave of support for Phelps’s dismay on the restrictive cap regulations.


Ryan Lochte Calls Fans for Support and Fun

Not long after Phelps’s tweet stirred the Olympic political pot during downtime at the USA Olympic swim camp in Vichy, France, another teammate, Ryan Lochte, who has created an entire fanbase dubbed “The Lochte Nation,” teased his “Lochtenator” fans by tweeting “LOCHTE NATION!! I want to talk to a fan of mine today! Who wants a call from me? It's going to happen sometime this morn so be ready!”

The surfing, sex-symbol swimmer and world-record holder in the 200-meter backstroke and the 200-meter individual medley, who poses the greatest threat to toppling Phelps in three individual races at the London Games, has a Twitter-base of over 123,000. Laid-back Lochte had some fun keeping his tweeps holding their phone with bated breath. “I am still reading all these replies!! You guys are great. HMMMM who am I going to call?????”

For swimming fans, this was equivalent to getting a personal phone call from Justin Bieber to a Beiberette before the big concert.

Twitter traffic went nuts with thousands of Reezy (Lochte’s nickname) tweeting “call me!” with the hashtag #Jeah, another Lochteism that he coined instead of saying “Yeah.”

He let them tweet and sweat and build up to a Florida Gator styled frenzy by tweeting “You guys ready? I need the biggest, best fan from LOCHTE NATION to get me going!”


The lucky Lochtenator? Dana @JeahLochte who miraculously kept it together when her heartthrob and favorite Olympian called and asked some great questions./fb.me/1e7BcuQWk 


He Tweeteth!

Jason Lezak

Just when USA swim fans thought the twitter-tizzy had slowed down, Jason Lezak, the four-time Olympian and anchor of the infamous 4x100-meter free relay in Beijing where he chased France’s Alain Bernard down by one one-hundreth of a second, launched his first tweet with a picture of Brendan Hansen and himself (part of USA’s 4x100-meter Gold Medal winning medley relay in 08’) chilling “after a fatty American Burger,” in France.

Without having made one peep or tweet, Lezak, the iconic figure of the 2008 games for USA Swimming, pulling in the fastest relay split of all time, at age 33, had already ratcheted up over a 1,000 followers on Twitter. Once the news broke that he had actually activated his account, @SwimmingWorld responded by saying “Watching @JasonLezak Twitter follower numbers right now is like watching that National Deb amount billboard.”

By the time the sun had set on Vichy, France, with some help from fellow Olympians, Lezak was close to 2,000 followers—with one tweet!


—Erin Quinn