Taking the plunge

Backing Olympians is a big risk for sponsors, so why is Ryan Lochte an exception?

Updated: August 13, 2012, 8:15 PM ET
By Matt McCue | ESPN The Magazine

AS RYAN LOCHTE TELLS IT in his laid-back surfer way, he hasn't felt nervous before a race in almost 20 years. In that memory, he is 8 years old and standing on a pool deck near his home in Rochester, N.Y., before the start of the 100-meter freestyle. Just as the starter barks the command to step onto the platform, Lochte has a sudden urge to pee. As he takes his starting position, the dam bursts.

Eyes hiding behind goggles, he can't see the reaction from the stands, ...

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