Photo Credit: Noel Vasquez/Getty Images for USA Swimming
Swimmer Ryan Lochte may be one of the most talked about names of Team USA but his mom, Ike Lochte (pictured with her son), may be one of the most darling. Start talking to her about her son, this Olympic Games and how proud she is, and you had better have a box of tissues nearby.
“I just don’t want to think about it,” she told me, holding back tears, when I told her during our chat at the P&G Family Home in London that Summer Sanders, a 1992 Olympic gold medalist in swimming, predicted Ryan would leave with “multiple” gold medals. “Whatever happens … I know he’s ready … and I know that he’s sure he has put in all the work and has done all the training,” the proud mom said. “So I am confident, 100-percent confident that he’s sure of himself, that he’s going to do well.”
Much has been made about her son’s rivalry with Michael Phelps, and how this could be the Games where he comes out on top. Her son, she said, doesn’t seem fazed by all the attention. She, however, may be a different story. “I think I’m the one who’s nervous, maybe everybody has these expectations ... and maybe I don’t have those expectations everybody else has. I think he’s going to do well, but a medal is not all that,” the mom of five told me.
Hottest Bachelor on Team USA?
Mom doesn’t like to think of her son that way, but she was willing to reveal what many women across America probably want to know -- what is Ryan looking for in a woman?
“Hopefully a wonderful girl that Mom would approve of, and not only me but he has two sisters and (they) have to approve, and believe me they are very boisterous, if you think I am ... they are worse. They are so protective of him,” the proud mama said with a laugh.
Coping On Game Day
Mom says Ryan is as “laid-back” on the day of competition as he is every day. He likes to listen to music (Lil Wayne is his fave), but other than that, mom says, he does his “normal thing.” “If you had a basketball in front of him he would probably play basketball and then go swim. A lot of swimmers tend to visualize their races -- he doesn’t.”
But Ike admits she's not nearly as calm and collected as her son. She does Sudoku puzzles during the races, doesn’t watch anyone else swim but her son and watches from a secret place. “Nobody knows where I am,” she said. “I just hide because I like to cry. Nobody around me knows until after he swims and they sort of figure out!”
A Mama's Boy
Ryan has made it clear in interviews how much he appreciates his mom, but Ike said that wasn’t always obvious. So attention all parents, Ike has a message for you: “If I had to tell the parents anything, it is that they really do appreciate you,” she said. “You mean when they roll their eyes they appreciate you?” I had to ask, since I have already seen the rolling eyes and my kids are just 6 and 4 ½. “Yes, yes ... They appreciate it,” she added. “They’re just able to voice it where they weren’t able to voice it at that time.”
Ryan has shown a definite interest in fashion, donning colorful high-tops at meets, so we had to ask mom could it be in his future? “At one point, he’s going to design things,” said Ike. “Personally, I’m hoping that he does a whole line of baby suits (for swimming) because ... I think there’s a need for that.”
No Pressure from this Mom!
If Ryan were to turn around and tell his mom he’s done with swimming, it would be a-okay with her. “If he were to quit tomorrow, I would turn around and say, ‘What a wonderful thing you have done, look at how many people you reached, look at the kids you gave the medals to and how they’re like, 'Wow.' Maybe swimming did that for him,” Ike said, who coached Ryan until he was 12, but never pushed. (By the way, mom says he still holds records for the 10-and-under category in upstate New York!) “Do I want that swimming pressure on him -- like, "You have to do this, you have to do this because if you do this then you are going to get that’ ... he would have never been here.”
Thank You, Mom
Ike can’t say enough good things about the P&G Family Home, which provides athletes and their families a “home away from home” during the Games. “Normally, I would be getting very nervous now, but I’m not,” she said, crediting that to being around all moms who know exactly how she’s feeling. "I think we can all tell you probably the same thing. We talk so much together and we’re here to support each other … good, bad, indifferent, this is wonderful."
The cost of Kelly Wallace’s travel to London and accommodation was paid by Procter & Gamble.