LONDON – Ryan Lochte's Olympic opponents shouldn't fear him just for his prowess in the pool. His competitors and teammates should also be wary of his mischievous sense of humor away from it.
Lochte looks set to emerge as one of the London Games' stars after collecting gold in the 400-meter individual medley on Saturday night, well ahead of a fourth-place Michael Phelps. He has set his sights on five gold medals here, but away from the heat of competition, Lochte’s mind is constantly scheming on ways to play practical jokes on his colleagues and competitors, which he revealed to Yahoo! Sports in a recent interview.
"I've played some jokes on my teammates – I once put Icy Hot in one of my friend's Speedos," Lochte said. "That was the funniest thing.
"It was all for jokes. It was before practice or something. We all got a kick out of it. As long as everyone else is having a good time, I'm having a good time."
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The Icy Hot prank took place during Lochte's college career at the University of Florida. His cheeky attitude has stuck ever since, even as he has established himself as one of swimming's top performers.
Much has been made of the 27-year-old’s newfound dedication to swimming after a disappointing meet in Beijing four years ago when he came back with two golds and two bronze medals but was overshadowed by Phelps.
Despite having dedicated to train harder than ever before, Lochte insists he won't lose his laid-back, irreverent nature.
"I am like a big kid," Lochte said. "I don't think I’ll ever lose that, because it helps me perform my best. If I'm thinking about swimming 100 percent, 24/7, I'll lose it; I won't become the great athlete that I want to. I need to relax, goof off, be that big kid that I am. That's what helps me relax."
Lochte will attempt to win his second gold in the 200-meter freestyle on Sunday. Whatever happens for the rest of the competition,he is determined to enjoy the Olympic experience safe in the knowledge that he has prepared himself properly this time around.
"When I was actually flying back home from Beijing on the plane, I had a long time to think, and I just thought about myself," Lochte said. "I jotted down some goals for the next four years that I wanted to accomplish. I wasn't really happy. I talked to my coach about it and we sat down and made a four-year plan and we’ve been following it since then."
More London Olympics content on Yahoo! Sports:
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• Photos: Ryan Lochte's grill of victory