Ryan Lochte Makes Nirvana Tribute, Recreates Nevermind Album Cover

11-time Olympic medalist, Ryan Lochte, does it again, creates media and attention around the sport of swimming out of thin air.

Ryan Lochte recreates Nirvana album cover

Ryan Lochte recreates Nirvana album cover

With the help of ESPN Magazine, a brilliant idea was born:

Recreate the iconic Nirvana album cover from the 1991 classic, Nevermind. 

Few forget the gripping album cover image. The baby’s underwater, eyes wide open, seemingly chasing a US dollar bill on the fishhook. It says a lot of about America, about greed, about how we indoctrinate our children into the economic machine that it is…but let’s be honest.  The album cover is “funny” for one obvious reason…and I’ll leave it there.

Nirvana, the band, is loved for bringing music back to its honest and raw roots, after a disappointing decade of pop muisc far too synthesizer heavy. Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain was a poet that happened to also shred his guitar. A leader of the grunge moment’s more serious exploration of rock music, Nirvana’s work remains relevant to this day.

The original cover was shot at the Rose Bowl Aquatics facility, former training ground of the legendary Jason Lezak among others.

Screenshots of Ryan Lochte’s ESPN Magazine Photo Shoot:

Ryan Lochte recreates Nirvana album cover

Ryan Lochte recreates Nirvana album cover

Ryan Lochte recreates Nirvana album cover

Ryan Lochte recreates Nirvana album cover

Ryan Lochte recreates Nirvana album cover

Ryan Lochte recreates Nirvana album cover



  1. Hook'em says:

    Love Nirvana but can’t help but be a little disappointed in this. Don’t think it does Kurt any justice

    • agree says:

      Agree with you on this. Kurt is probably rolling over in his grave. The fact that “pop music” was tagged in the tags section is also a disgrace to Nirvana. This is synonymous to saying Metallica, AC/DC and Ozzy were all smooth jazz.

      • Swimma says:

        It’s tagged pop music because it says “nirvana, the band, is loved for bringing music back to its honest and raw roots, after a disappointing decade of pop muisc far too synthesizer heavy. Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain was a poet that happend to also shred his guitar”. He’s agreeing with you, read the article next time

        • Gold Medal Mel Stewart says:

          thx SwimMa… I have a feeling I’m the only one among the swimswam readership old enough to have actually bought the album when it came out.

          • Coach Joe says:

            I was there too Mel. I used to get up 30 minutes early before morning weights to watch the video to Smell Like Teen Spirit on MTV. I guess we’re getting old.

          • Robin says:

            Haha, no you’re not, Mel. And it was more than a breath of fresh air at the time, its rawness was almost shocking. With so much music referencing Nirvana over the last 20+ years, it’s hard to imagine now how radical it sounded new. I was stunned to do the math and realize that for my daughter, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” would be the equivalent of a song that came out in 1959 for me, and when I was a 10-year-old, 1959 songs were moldy oldies – but she thinks Nirvana “sounds new.”

            In other words, nice concept, Ryan!

      • Braden Keith Braden Keith says:

        I don’t think Kurt would really be that offended by it…considering he once said:

        “I wanted to be totally Led Zeppelin in a way and then be totally extreme punk rock and then do real wimpy pop songs”.

        • PsychoDad says:

          … and then, he went and copied Pixies…

          • completely conquered says:

            Yeah OK. You can’t be pop unless you are actually popular. While the Pixies were very influential as a band, I wouldn’t call them pop. And if you think Kurt copied them, then you really haven’t listened to either. I do recall reading an article about one of Kurt’s favorite bands being Teenage Fanclub, who wrote some really great “pop” songs that weren’t ever heard by anyone.

          • Powerful Katz says:

            Just inspired bt pixies, they did they’re own thing.

  2. Kirk Nelson says:

    Not a bad effort, but I still prefer Weird Al’s version.

  3. baxter says:

    I’m as big a Nirvana fan as there is, and I think this is great. Reminds us of how good music used to be – damn I sound old.

    Grow a sense of humor guys. A part of me likes to think that Kurt would grin at this if he could! Go watch (or rewatch, those that you that actually ARE Nirvana fans) The Year That Punk Broke! Before he married that **** Courtney he really had a sense of humor, and almost seemed happy!

    Good memories, good times, and thanks to Ryan for being the unashamed, funny guy that he is (although I seem to remember him racing without goggles until he was 10!) and doing this!

  4. I think the symbolism, whether it was intended the way I see it or not, is brilliant:

    The pool is the world of pro sports.
    The swimmer is the baby, as in: the new sport trying to become a legit pro sport.
    The baby is chasing money on a fishing line.

    I mean, isn’t that where we are at right now as a sport? Think of all the progress we have made and the trip ups we have had even just in the last decade. Amazing trials in big arenas. Swimmers becoming more famous than ever. The plastic suit debacle. The bong incident. The list could go on. We are a sport learning to swim in a new pool. Chasing dollars and dealing with the crap that goes with it.

    Kind of brilliant if you ask me. Someone at ESPN deserves a candy bar for summing us up so well in the eyes of the sports community. And Lochte deserves a candy bar for playing along… he is the right guy for this shoot for sure.

  5. Keyla Baird says:

    Does Ryan Lochte even Listen to Nirvana?? Or is it because Little Wayne did??

  6. Springbrook says:

    Anyone care to guess where the baby photo was taken? Anyone? Rose Bowl Aquatics Center, in Pasadena, CA. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rose_Bowl_Aquatics_Center

    For what it’s worth, it’s a tremendous facility, with an awesome Masters program.

  7. JG says:

    Lochte should be naked.

  8. JG says:

    Spot the difference: Ok I am going to state the obvious anyways, Lochte should be naked.

    • Rafael says:

      If he were we would have psycho 15 year old girls screaming here and a Lot of Overly conservatives claiming for public punishment, ban for life, destruction of family values and the list could go on far and far.. on a place where the maximum entity take their time worrying about deck changing..

  9. JG says:

    Haha another JG. You are bad.

  10. baxter says:

    hey completely conquered! in it’s basic structure and progression, smells like teen spirit IS gouge away

  11. Ro says:

    Funny photo shoot, Ryan did a great job

  12. Jiggs says:

    Miss America, meet Mr America

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About Gold Medal Mel Stewart

GOLD MEDAL MEL, medal shot copy

Mel Stewart, aka Gold Medal Mel, won three Olympic medals at the 1992 Olympic Games. As a writer/producer and sports columnist, Mel has contributed to Yahoo Sports, Universal Sports, and USA Swimming. Mel has also worked as an Olympic analyst for ABC, NBC, EPSN, FOX SPORTS and TBS. At SwimSwam.com, Mel hosts Gold Medal Minute presented by SwimOutlet.com, a weekly report featuring the world’s fastest swimmers and Olympic medalists. Read More »