Friday, October 16, 2009
A New Lochte is making waves at UF
By Patrick Carney
Special to ESPN.com
Despite three generations of swimmers, including a six-time Olympic medalist, Devon Lochte's family rarely talks about swimming.
However, it is his family's strength and support that have helped to motivate Devon to be the next great Lochte swimmer.
Devon honors his grandfather with a tattoo on his right arm that reads his name, Russell, vertically in black lettering. It was near Rochester, N.Y., where the late Russell Lochte, who was a swimming coach, taught his son Steve everything he knew about the sport. Steve passed those lessons on to four of his five children.
Ryan Lochte, 25, fell in love with the pool at an early age. After starring at the University of Florida and amassing three gold, one silver and two bronze medals in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, he is still in the pool striving to return to the medal stand at the 2012 Games in London.
It took Devon, 19, until he broke his wrist during his sophomore year in high school to turn in his football helmet and jersey for goggles and a swimsuit. Following in his brother's footsteps, Devon is now a freshman at Florida, where he plans to compete in mid-distance free style and butterfly after redshirting his first year. His goal, also like his brother's years ago, is to reach the Olympics.
"Every time I watch anyone in my family swim, I get goose bumps," said Devon, whose older sisters, Kristin and Megan, also swam in college. Thirteen-year-old brother Brandon plays baseball instead of swimming.
Despite following his family's swimming tradition while being coached by his father at Spruce Creek (Daytona, Fla.) High School and Daytona Beach Speed swim club, as well as going to the same school as his Olympian older brother, Devon is determined to find his own path toward success in the pool.
That success must start on the collegiate level in Gainesville. Devon knows that if he wants to see his picture hanging on the wall in the swimming offices inside the Stephen C. O'Connell Center with other Gators who were swimming Olympians, he will need to be completely committed to developing as a swimmer.
Only a few months into his college career, Lochte is already locked into a strict regimen of exercise, practice and nutrition.
A typical day involves waking up at 5:30 a.m. to make it to 6 a.m. practice. After swimming for two hours, Lochte goes to class. He's back to the pool at 2 p.m. for a second practice, which leads into lifting weights at 4:30 p.m. Meanwhile, he's eating carbohydrates and proteins every three to four hours.
|Devon Lochte doesn't have as much experience as his competition, but he has the potential to be great.|
Although Devon has significantly less experience in the pool than most college swimmers, Florida coach Gregg Troy -- who also coached Ryan -- sees potential.
"He's got some real good physical tools and a nice feel for the water," Troy said of Devon. "I don't want to limit him because he is very raw."
Ryan, who still trains with and helps out the Gators' swimming team, sees how successful Devon can be on a daily basis.
"If he's 110 percent devoted and dedicated and willing to push his body, I think he's going to be better than me," Ryan said. "I've seen it."
As Devon progresses as a swimmer, he has the luxury of living with his role model; for at least his first year in college, he and Ryan are roommates off-campus. Devon has also enjoyed how their relationship has changed since he began swimming competitively.
"Me and my brother connected on a different level," Devon said.
Troy sees some of the same traits in the Lochte brothers. He knows having Ryan around has been a benefit to Devon.
"He's very coachable," Troy said of the younger Lochte. "He was a little over his head when he got in, but the coachability rubs off on him from Ryan."
Regardless of a six-year age difference and significantly different swimming experiences, the brothers have a common swimming goal.
"We have a silent goal," Devon said as his face lit up. "We never really told anyone, but we want to be in the Olympics on the same relay team. That would be the best."
Ryan shares his little brother's dream and enthusiasm.
"I could see him definitely going to the Olympics and being on the same relay," Ryan said. "That would mean the world to me. I don't think anything can describe it."
Devon has made sure to keep a balance between his personal and team goals by keeping open communication with his coach.
We never really told anyone, but we want to be in the Olympics on the same relay team. That would be the best.
-- Devon Lochte, on a silent goal with Olympian brother Ryan
"We've talked about it," Devon said about telling his coach of his Olympic aspirations. "I've got a long way to go."
"That's a real good attitude to have," Troy said about his zealous freshman. "The sky is the limit for Devon. He looks like his brother in the water. But he's not Ryan Lochte; he's Devon Lochte."
Devon's goals for college swimming are as ambitious as his goals of representing his country in London in 2012 or Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
"I want to break any NCAA record, win at [the NCAA championships] and win at everything I swim," Devon said.
With a few years until he can attempt to fulfill his Olympic dreams and a year until he can swim competitively at Florida, Devon is determined to continue to improve as a swimmer at Florida. His role during his first year will be to prepare for the next four years while working as a training partner for teammates.
Devon can't avoid the constant reminders of how successful his brother has been at Florida and on the international stage, but Ryan is intent on having his brother ignore the distractions and focus on his own goals.
"I definitely know there's more pressure on Devon because of everything I did at the University of Florida," Ryan said. "He's Devon, not me. He's his own person. I tell him to make his own shadow."
Devon's first step in doing so was getting signed by a major college swimming program. The last step will be climbing the medal stand at the Olympics.
"Finally, I'm not Ryan's little brother," Devon said. "I'm finally Devon."
Patrick Carney is a regular contributor to ESPN.com.
|Ryan Lochte (above) and Devon hope to end up on an Olympics medal stand together.|