• Results: Swim Trials Monday
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At first, no one seems to notice the guy walking into the Aqua Zone with the green, bejeweled backpack.
Then, there's a gasp from a teenage girl. And another. Pretty soon everyone is whispering about how Ryan Lochte — the one who just outswam Michael Phelps in the 400 IM preliminaries about two hours earlier — is right here, wandering around with the fans.
He strolls over to the Speedo booth and picks out a white T-shirt and a green beanie before he's mobbed with people with iPhones, wanting him to sign their swim caps and tickets and shirts. He patiently smiles and signs and poses as a couple of people from Speedo -- one of his sponsors -- help him pick out a black jacket and a green trucker hat.
One of the Speedo people tells the crowd that they're sorry, but Ryan has to go. He has an important race coming up, she says.
Tonight, Lochte will take his first shot at the Olympic Team — and at challenging Phelps — in the 400 IM finals.
Headed back up the escalator in the CenturyLink Center, Lochte said he doesn't venture out much during the meet, but he also doesn't avoid mingling with fans. In fact, he likes surprising them by just showing up.
"A couple of kids came up to me and said, 'They just let you walk around?'" he laughed. "It's fun. I like getting to see that little smile on their faces."
Lochte said it's still a little weird to think that people want to talk to him, to snap photos, that they suddenly crowd around when he goes to pick out some clothes.
"Every autograph I give, every picture I take, it's like the first one," he said.
With several hours to go before the finals, Lochte said he'd probably be retreating for the afternoon.
"I'm going to eat and then probably pass out," he said.
His fuel of choice for one of the most grueling races at the trials?
"Probably Jimmy John's." He smiled. "Because they deliver. And I'm too lazy to walk."