Easygoing, lighthearted, with a manner reminiscent of your olderbrother's awesomely cute jock of a friend, Lochte was transplantedfrom upstate New York to Florida when he was 11. His look veerswell outside of typical indifferent gymwear, embracing brighttropical colors, metal-studded shorts and belts, and many, manysparkly things raucous plumage worthy of a macaw. Diamond-studdedUS flag grills light up his smile. His feet sport kelly-green,glitter-covered sneakers of his own design (with his name on thesoles), courtesy of his sponsor Speedo; or red, white, and bluehigh-top kicks with angel wings at the ankles; or velvet slipperswith silver monograms embroidered on the toes. |
His non-Olympic swimwear consists of tiny scraps of spandex inbright optical-art florals or in bubblegum pink with stars acrossthe front. Silver bracelets encircle his wrists, anddiamond-encrusted skull necklaces hang from his neck when it isn'tbeing used to display Olympic medals. During a videotaped interviewwith John McEnroe, a trip into Lochte's giant walk-in closetrevealed trays of flashy watches next to rows of shirts arranged bycolor, and neatly stacked fedoras and porkpies and Embroidered Baseball Caps.He sometimes carries a bright yellow, studded backpack. What's going on here? His style would seem to shout that he's justa fun, cocky guy unafraid to wear whatever he wants, unconcernedwith questions of taste, and with enough money to completelyindulge his yearnings for a fantastic wardrobe.
But in a videoproduced by Speedo, Lochte explains, "All the stuff that I do,like, the crazy shoes I wear like the grills I wear on the podium,the crazy shoes, all that crazy stuff like, rock star. It's justall my personality." You could see a contradiction in that quote: A personality issomething you're born with, but style is a series of deliberatechoices that shape the image you present to the world. Deciding tolook like a rock star (or a nerd, or a college professor, for thatmatter) is a way to project and communicate who you'd like to be,or in this case, to create the most marketable version of youpossible. Lochte's mix of jockiness, hip-hop bling, and tropicalfrat boy, it would seem then, is part calculated and part genuine.He's an innate showoff, sure, but it's very possible he's alsomaking a career move to try and get a larger share of attention incase his medals, two gold and one silver so far, won't keep usentertained long enough.
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