olympics

British People Don’t Really Care That Much About Ryan Lochte

Or know much about him.

That’s Ryan Lochte. You know that, of course. British people however, don’t. Well, definitely not to the same degree that Americans do. Stateside everything from his habit of having one-night stands to his Twitter spelling errors is practically common knowledge, over in London he’s still that guy who’s not Michael Phelps. Here’s a sampling of Olympic Park visitors I stopped to ask just who the hell this Ryan Lochte kid is, and then what, if anything, they knew about him other than that he’s not Michael Phelps. Spoiler: not much. (And a lot of people who didn’t know got embarrassed and then wouldn’t have their pictures taken, which is just so British.)

Rhys
“He’s American, a swimmer right? I think he beat Phelps at something… but it’s still all about Phelps.”

Jenny & Richard
Jenny: “Hmm… that name doesn’t ring a bell. Did he win a lot of medals?”
Richard: “Are we supposed to know who he is?”

Clemmie, Jake & Vladimir*
*likely not his real name, because teens will be teens.

Jake: “Swimmer!”
Vlad: “He’s the guy who’s been in Michael Phelps’ shadow for a while, maybe he’ll be able to step out now that Phelps is talking about retiring.”

Note: “Vlad” also said he’s a member of Team GB’s under 16 swimming squad, which explained why he knew so much about Ryan. As with his exotic name, that may or may not be legit.

Annie & Simon
Simon: “He’s that American swimmer they keep talking about on TV. I don’t think he’s as good as Michael Phelps, is he? Maybe he’ll get there.”

Stacey & Lee
Stacey: “No idea…. is that offensive? [Laughing] No idea at all.”
Lee: “He’s not British, is he? It’d be bad if he was British and we didn’t know who he was.”

Linda & Jim
Linda: “Oh, gosh, I don’t know, ask [Jim]”
Jim: “He’s that funny swimmer.”

Russ
“The swimmer, he had that weird bling for his mouth, right? Seemed a bit silly.”

Sarah
“Say it again? Okay no. Sorry!”

Laura & John
John: “We heard his name being shouted everywhere in the stadium this morning. Don’t know who he is though.”
Laura: “Yeah, there were a lot of cheers. People must love him.”

Note: It’s unlikely there’d be cheers for Lochte during athletics heats, but who knows, his star is on the rise. John and Laura probably just got confused.

Jules & Andrew
Andrew: “He’s the new Michael Phelps, definitely. He swam incredibly. We’ll be watching out for him at Rio, I bet.”

Victoria & Don
Victoria: “No… we’ve only really gotten into the athletics these Games. Can you give us a clue?”
[He’s a swimmer.]
Don: “Oh, yeah, we don’t really watch the swimming because Team GB doesn’t do well there.”

Bev & Clare
Bev: “He’s that swimmer! Oh yes, he’s a very good lad. He beat Phelps.”

Rachel & Mark
Mark: “He’s on the rise. He might be fighting Phelps for the crown soon, yeah.”
Rachel: “Oh, I know who you mean now. He blew everyone away in some of those races.”

Rich
“He swims, swims for the USA. Why can’t we talk about British athletes?”

Note: Rich’s friend Liz jumped in here. She didn’t want to be photographed because she’s volunteering at the Olympic Park, but she had this to say — breathlessly:
“Oh my GOD he’s the swimmer, he’s so beautiful. Beautiful. All the Games workers love him, he’s beautiful, we talk about him all the time.”
I asked if she had the chance to meet him.
“Ugh, I wish. I wish I could — if I had higher security clearance on my ID I’d be following him around the Athletes’ Village.”

Fiona, Graham, Katie, and Niall
Niall: “Yes, he’s Michael Phelps’ swimming partner.”
Graham: “Nobody can beat Phelps, but this kid is emulating him. Maybe by Rio he’ll be at his best.”

Hazel & Pamela
Hazel: “We don’t know much about him, but he seems like a lovely boy. He swims, doesn’t he? Yes, we saw his picture in the newspapers. Maybe we’ll get to know him more if he keeps going.”
Pamela: “He needs to beat that Michael Phelps.”

Coco & Flo
Flo: “Is he the hot blond one? No, wait, let me check on my phone. I want to look at pictures, how do you spell his name?”
[The interview pauses for Flo to check, and then for her to be hit on by some skeezy French guys.]
“Oh yeah, oh I like him now. He’s good looking, yeah, yeah. Could he be the new Michael Phelps? Wait, is that the other swimmer? Oh, well maybe I need to look at more pictures but I think he’s cuter.”
Coco: [giggles]

Laura & Ava
Laura: “No.”

Justine, Robert, Natalia & Sienna
Justine: “He’s the one stuck in Phelps’ shadow.”

And this is how Ryan Lochte feels about all this:

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