As far as sports go, swimming does not usually produce fashion icons. The suits are all fairly similar, and rarely does an athlete earn enough crossover cred to where their appearances are so numerous outside of the pool that they can develop and establish a personal style.
But if there were ever a swimmer whose clothing choices were constantly in the public eye, it’s World Record holder and superstar Ryan Lochte. From his green Speedo Martian Shoes to his purple briefs, he even makes a statement when he’s grunged out on the pool deck.
Last night, Lochte unveiled to the swimming world his more formal look (which we see more and more of from him as he becomes more and more popular in the mainstream). He was sporting Ralph Lauren from head-to-toe, including a white jacket and black bow-tie, along with velvet, monogrammed shoes. (which was actually toned down from the bedazzled coat he wore to last year’s event). This was the red-carpet introduction of one of his new sponsors in the leadup to the 2012 Olympics.
Lochte has joined Michael Phelps and, to some extent within the certain communities, Natalie Coughlin and Dara Torres, as swimmers who have successfully made a mainstream crossover while still competing. He recently signed major endorsement deals with Gillette and Ralph Lauren in deals that are reported to be in the high-six to low-seven figure range. These deals add to his contract with Gatorade that saw him featured in a few recent commercials (which should be ramped up as the Olympics draw nearer).
This seems to mean that there will be more swimmers in front of more people, more often in the coming year than maybe at any point since Summer Sanders was running 4 or 5 TV shows at the same time in the late 90’s (and even she has remained a very visible presence from her work with Yahoo! Sports).
In an article in the Sports Business Daily magazine, Lochte’s agent Erika Wright is quoted as saying that he’s probably close to done with new endorsements, though more have come through, as the extra money isn’t worth missing training in the leadup to the Olympics.
This is a positive sign for Lochte fans who might be concerned about a sort of superstar-hangover (like we saw with Phelps after Beijing) where the demands for time by sponsors can affect training. Lochte seems intent on remembering to focus for the big show.