He is on the cover of Vogue magazine, has commercials for Speedo, Gillette, and Ralph Lauren – and just happens to be one of the best swimmers in the world.
Florida’s own Ryan Lochte seems to be on top of the world, and the London 2012 Olympic Games are next on his list to conquer.
Lochte, who grew up in Central Florida, credits his Cuban mom for where he is today.
“And every time I hear it, I cry, because you work so hard to get your kids to fulfill their goals, and sometimes they don't realize it until they’re older, and now he’s realizing how much we’ve given up,” says his mother, Ileana “Ike” Lochte.
She was born in Havana, and her family moved to Miami when she was 7, later growing up in New York. Ike returned to attend the University of Miami, where she met her husband Steve.
The Lochtes then settled along with their children in Port Orange. The small Florida town just south of Daytona Beach has even named a street after their local hero – Lochte Way.
Ryan Lochte's parents, both of whom were swimmers, coached their son until he was 12.
A turning point came when he was 6 or 7.
“He swam at a swim meet, a mini-meet, that he was able to beat 9-year-olds, and that was it,” Ike Lochte says. That was the first time she saw potential greatness in him, she says.
Ryan Lochte went on to the University of Florida where he started to work with a coach that told him he was good enough to be the best, and that if he would put in the work, he could make it to the Olympics.
Work he did – and it has paid off with six Olympic medals and four world records to date.
“He never misses a day of practice unless he is doing a photo shoot or something,” his mom says. “He never misses a day of anything. He loves it, he loves the competiveness, he loves the weight training.”
Asked where her son gets his Adonis body from, Ike Lochte has a ready response.
“Of course, it’s me,” she says with a laugh.
London will be Ryan Lochte’s third Olympic Summer Games, and by many accounts this will be his year.
His mom has medals of all colors, shapes and sizes in her family’s Port Orange home, but his personal gold from Beijing in 2008 is her fondest memory, she says.
“When he won the gold medal, the individual gold medal, and all I could think about what was my parents went through and how he’s there representing the United States, and my parents wanted us to be there so badly, to be in the United States,” she says. “And to see him up there with the American flag, it was great.”