Lochte: Swimming can go mainstream

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Having spent his time since London schmoozing at Fashion Week, acting on the sets of “90210” and “30 Rock,” and signing as many autographs as humanly possible, Ryan Lochte has recently been busy doing just about everything you can imagine that doesn’t involve racing in a pool. And to be fair, he’s been doing a little bit of that, too, albeit against students at a grade school swim meet he crashed last week.

But Lochte says his public appearances are about growing the profile of the sport, and Wednesday he told SI.com’s Maggie Gray on a podcast that he believes swimming can make the jump to the mainstream someday.

[Michael Phelps] did a tremendous job of making it more noticeable just through his swimming achievements,” Lochte said. “But I want to take it outside the sport and take it into pop culture. You see the NBA, you see NFL, the NHL always on TV. Why can’t swimming be like that? It’s the most talked-about sport at the Olympics. Why can’t we have that every year?”

It’s a fair question, and as much as we hope he’s right, American success in swimming isn’t new: Team USA has dominated the pool’s medal count at every Olympics since 1992, with popular athletes consistently passing the torch. If Phelps winning 22 medals during the last three Olympics can’t force the sport into the mainstream, it’s difficult to imagine that Lochte showing up on the CW is going to do the trick

But we sure do love his enthusiasm.