Tuesday, April 23, 2013

How Did Ryan Lochte Do?: The Viking's Review

"Colonel Fury... tell the execs we can scratch Project Tool Academy.  We found our man."

Now that "What Would Ryan Lochte Do?" has premiered, everyone in the world of swimming is feeling the need to declare whether they love it or hate it.  I struggled a bit with what side of the fence I sit on.  At the USA-Swimming website, Gus evidently felt the need to put a disclaimer out there: "The first thing to keep in mind when watching “What Would Ryan Lochte Do?,” is that it is a reality show, and like all reality shows, it has nothing to do with actual reality." 

I am not sure I agree in this case.  Hard core athletes party, and I have heard some pretty good Ryan Lochte stories.  I fear this may be spot on.  It's just not the side of an Olympian we usually see put out there.  At least he comes off as a sweet, goofy guy who loves his family, and not mean-spirited or rudely obnoxious like a lot of pro athletes.

The Bad:  I couldn't help but cringe at the thought of how many swim families got together in front of the TV expecting a show about swimming, training and Olympic excellence all wrapped up in the tortilla of fun that is Ryan Lochte's personality... only to find that really it's the swim version of Jersey Shore minus 99% of the actual swimming. Young swimmers love Reezy but we might have to cover their eyes a bit too much here.

"...it's as though millions of swim parents were suddenly asked by their children to define the word douche-bag."
The Good:  Lochte is a like-able guy.  If you can get past the "don't let your twelve year old watch" stuff, you can't help but think he is funny--  although unfortunately he tends to be funny in the way that "blonde" jokes are funny.  I can see why he was chosen for a reality show.  A lot of the appeal is his clueless-ness and that is a winning formula in the world of reality television.  I mean, the folks at Fox News in Philly seem to love the guy:

Philadelphia News, Weather and Sports from WTXF FOX 29

Of course, as a swimmer I have to wonder where all the other swim people are.  I would love to see the dynamics between Ryan and Coach Troy, or even Ryan and his dad.  I want to see some of the swimmers I have met who train with and hang with Ryan because they have to be a part of his life in some way, don't they? Aren't his training partners ever around to knock him upside the head before he does something dumb, or is the Lochtourage there to keep other swimmers from dragging him down?  Hey, maybe that is coming up in the next few episodes.  Who knows?

This was the part where my wife said "I wanna give this guy an IQ test so bad."

I am trying not to take this too seriously or think too much about how it effects our sport.  Lochte is not a swimmer now so much as he is a celebrity.  Good?  Bad?  Whatever... As a former swimmer and now a coach/teacher, I can't help but see this as a science experiment.  This is our first glimpse into the depths of the post-grad phenomena.  Think about it.  Ryan is in a new kind of petri dish.  When I think about if 21 year old me were all of a sudden able to make enough money as a swimmer to just keep swimming?...  I would have probably still been living the college life at age 28.  Ryan is living the dream on a whole new level and thriving.  Imagine it:  college swimming without homework; without needing a job, without NCAA rules holding you back from the hops inspired awesome-ness you might have been. Who knows where I would have ended up if all of a sudden there was no point in me maturing beyond that point?  For me, it might have been a little more like Shakes the Clown than a coming of age frat party movie, but hey, every body is different, right?

I might have held it together a little better than this, but anyone who knew 21 year old me gets what I'm sayin.
Either way, I'll take it.  I am not gonna bring my club kids together for a screening or anything, but all in all it was fun.  I hope they can keep it interesting and I hope that we get to see a little more of the swimming side, but I am not gonna complain too much if we don't.  It's a reality show and expectations just have to be low.  Ryan has crossed the line from swimmer to loveable douche-bag celebrity, but he is still our loveable douche-bag celebrity.

And even if they were to cancel it after one show, at least we got a couple of cool gifs out of it, right?



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