Ryan Lochte laps Michael Phelps on the fashion scene even if he can't keep up in the pool

Martin Rogers
Yahoo! Sports

LONDON – Ryan Lochte has spiced up his head-to-head competition with Michael Phelps in the Olympic pool by teasing his arch-rival over his choice of fashion.

Lochte will square off against Phelps in the 200 meter and 400 meter individual medley and represents the biggest threat to the eight-time Beijing gold medalist's hopes. Regardless of the outcome, however, Lochte insists he will always have the edge in the fashion stakes. Lochte's preference for glamorous duds gives him a self-described rock star persona.

Phelps meanwhile, is decidedly more straight-laced and generally opts for traditional clothing, which Lochte insists makes him look like Clark Kent.

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"Each top athlete has their own personality and everyone labels me as the rock star," Lochte told Yahoo! Sports. "So I guess I have a little rock star personality or that's how I pretty much dress.

"I'm actually kind of simple with clothing, but then I'll spice it up with some jewelry, accessories like chains, or a watch, or a necklace, something like that. Maybe a diamond necklace. I don't have any leather trousers yet, but maybe I will get that after the Olympics.

"Michael Phelps is kind of like the Superman, so he's more solid colors: red, white, blue. Straight-forward, solid. I can wear anything. Like a whole pink suit, it doesn't matter. As long as I like it, I'll wear it."

Lochte was chosen as one of the models when Ralph Lauren revealed its official attire for the U.S. Olympic team and explained how, for him, fashion provided a welcome distraction from the rigors of swimming training.

"My normal uniform is a Speedo, cap, and goggles," he said. "That's what I'm used to. So any time I can get dressed up and look presentable and nice, I'd be more than happy to," Lochte said. "I just kind of wear anything that I like. I don't have a certain way of how I dress myself. I wear whatever I like."

[ Photos: Ryan Lochte's road to the Olympics ]

Lochte was desperately disappointed with his results in 2008, when he returned from China with two gold medals and two bronze medals but a heavy heart. After deciding to become more dedicated to the sport, Lochte redoubled his training efforts and goes into London in superb form.

"The past three years leading up to London have been pretty much right on target, where I really wanted to fall into the sport of swimming," Lochte said. "The training that I've been putting in, and my mental aspect, I'm definitely ready."

No doubt he'll look the part as well.

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