World champion swimmer Ryan Lochte readily admits that, as a kid, he liked to goof around. In fact, the three-time gold medalist made an effort to get kicked out of swim practice...every day. The only problem? Lochte's mom was his first swim coach. And she knew that forcing him to swim would only cause him to quit.
[Olympics: How a skinny kid became a German swimming star]
Ileana Lochte recalls watching a young Ryan, about four or five years old, at his first swim meet. He raced and beat out kids who were several years older than he. Shortly after, mom -- and coach -- would see him "playing around," and want to tell her son to focus on his swimming. She held back. "I couldn't be the one to push my kids to hate the sport," says Ileana Lochte. "They had to like it. So I do have to bite my tongue a lot. I can't show that competitiveness."
Mom's strategy worked. Ryan Lochte has six Olympic medals and currently holds several world records for his speed in the water. The swimmer, who appears on the June cover of Vogue magazine, is ready to earn his spot to compete in the London Games this summer and says "he loves racing the top people in the world."
Click for more Ryan Lochte photosSays Ileana: "Because I held back a lot of my opinions, he was free to love it his way. We just had to let Ryan be Ryan." And letting Ryan be Ryan means understanding that his calm, cool and collected demeanor gives him an edge when he jumps into the pool. "Being laid back," she says," it's definitely a secret weapon for him."
What about the speculation that he wants to out-medal U.S. champion swimmer, Michael Phelps?
"You know what?" says Ryan Lochte, "All that hype, I don't pay attention to it. For me to swim my best, I need to be relaxed. I'm going out there and I'm just gonna enjoy it."
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