Barely had the starting pistol been sounded for that much-hyped duel in the pool when the victor seemed to be a foregone conclusion.
The Olympic swimmer already has an individual gold and team silver from these summer games and he seems destined to shoot up into an even rarer stratosphere. So, other than the fact that Lochte has a physique to make grown men and women weep in almost equal measure (albeit for entirely different reasons), here's everything you need to know about Team USA's brightest star.
A Fine Bromance: Sure, much has been made about Lochte's rivalry with Phelps, but both sides are quick to point out that the feud stays strictly in the pool. The longtime bros go way back as both friends and teammates, and are so copasetic that after Lochte's hearty win in the 400 individual medley, his medal-denied teammate took to Twitter to offer up sincere congratulations despite his defeat.
"Congrats to @ryanlochte…Way to keep that title in the country where it belongs!!" Phelps tweeted, to which Lochte later replied, "Thanks @MichaelPhelps I couldn't do it with out you. #USA." Aw, kill us with cuteness, why don't you.
Ads of Steel: Is anyone a better poster boy for the Ralph Lauren-kitted Team USA than Lochte? We think not. And while we expect him to be drowning in endorsements come the games' end, he's already popping up every, oh, 90 seconds or so on TV, appearing in ads for Procter & Gamble and Gillette. He's also involved in campaigns for Speedo, Gatorade, AT&T…need we go on?
He Bares Grills: The 27-year-old Florida-reared swimmer is all about the red, white and blue. And we mean all about it, from head to toe. With a giant, double-take-inducing pit stop at his teeth. Gold wasn't the only metal Lochte flashed when he took the podium after his 400 IM win Saturday, as his winning smile flashed bright for more than just the usual reasons: he was sporting a red, white and blue diamond-encrusted grill. And expect more glimpses of his star-spangled mouthpiece during the games.
"For those who don't know what a grill is, it's basically a retainer filled with diamonds," he explained back in 2011. "I wear it when I go on the podium. It's just a unique way of showing personality out to everyone."
He's a Dude: One five-second sound bite is all you need to hear in order to determine that for yourself, but his laidback attitude extends to his extracurriculars. Go ahead, try and peel that skateboard out of his hands. Just try it.
He's a Fashionisto: Need we remind you of the pink flower Speedo he donned at one of his London training sessions? No, we didn't think so. We probably also don't need to remind you that he designs his own shoes. Which he keeps in this here closet. Or that his smiling mug is no stranger to the front rows of fashion shows. And we're sure that we don't need to remind you that he and his shirtless torso only recently graced the cover of fashion bible Vogue. So we won't. Remind you, that is.
He Doesn't Just Tread, He Trends: If you were on Twitter at all this weekend, chances are you saw a familiar hashtag. #RyanLochte was rarely out of the U.S. trends, starting from the minute he dipped a toe into the pool at Saturday morning's qualifications. And there's a good reason for that: he has a following. You've heard of the Beliebers, the Katy Cats, the Little Monsters. Well, world, say hello to the Lochtenators.
"What's up to the loyal Lochtenators of Lochte Nation?" the fearless leader tweeted yesterday morning. "Pretty cool we r trending thanks to u! I've always said we r in this together & WE ARE!"
And by the way, if you see #Jeah or #Reezy trending, that's also Lochte. It's his signature phrase and self-imposed nickname, respectively.
He's Single: Keep cool, ladies. While the Australian papers seems determined to link Lochte up with Aussie swimming dynamo Blair Evans, Mama Lochte, Ileana, said ahead of the games that Ryan is "too busy" to get serious. "I don't think he wants to get into a relationship. It just wouldn't be fair to the girl. He doesn't have the time." Yet.
Man's Best Friend: Lochte is the proud owner of a Doberman named Carter. The genesis? Dwayne Michael Carter, aka rapper Lil Wayne. Good dawg dog.
His Body Is a Temple: While he lived at the McDonalds in Olympic Village at the Beijing Games, he admitted to Bob Costas ahead of his London run that he has given up all fast food in the run-up to the competition. Oh, and he also warms up for his Olympic workout by lifting a 650-pound tire. Intimidating the competition: you're doing it right.
Rings Around the…Where Now?: Before the London games, Lochte was a six-time Olympic medalist and like most of his athletic ilk, has a tattoo in honor of his sporting achievement. So where's Lochte's? His Olympic rings can be found on the inside of his right bicep. Not like you needed another excuse to freeze frame your TV screen when he came on, but nice to know you've got one all the same.
For the Win We have a sneaking suspicion there's nothing final about this tally, but Lochte's Olympic hardware as it stands now? That'd be four gold, three silver and one bronze. And counting.