The Barrier Breaker: Cullen Jones

The only African American swimmer on the U.S. national team, Jones, 28, is on a mission: “I want to erase the belief that black people don’t swim. I see swimming as a life skill rather than just a sport.” Watch him in the 50-meter freestyle.
What psychs him up: “Hip-hop—Jay-Z, T.I., Lil Wayne. It gets me excited to swim fast. Maybe it’s the yelling in my ear.”
Impressive swim fact about him: “For my event, the 50-meter free, which is just one lap, the majority of us don’t breathe. I’ll tell you, it’s not easy! I have to practice it. In fact, I do the same techniques that free divers use. I can actually hold my breath underwater for two and a half minutes. Eat that, David Blaine!”

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The Phenom: Ryan Lochte

The 27-year-old, known for his backstroke, could be the story of the Olympic Games, as he strives to defeat Michael Phelps in the 200-meter freestyle and 200-meter individual medley.
His insane diet: “I need 6,000 to 8,000 calories a day. For breakfast I just had five eggs, French toast, pancakes, oatmeal, some fruit. And a bagel, I think.”
His beauty advice: “My skin always gets so dry from the chlorine. The best moisturizer I’ve found is Kiehl’s Creme de Corps body lotion. I go through a ton.”
Future career plans: “Fashion! I want to design my own clothing line, starting with business apparel for men. I want to add a little rock-star look to it.”

olympic swimmers

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The Comeback Kid: Brendan Hansen

At 30, Hansen is trying to come out of retirement to compete in the 100- and 200-meter breaststroke—events he held world records in as recently as 2008.
Hardest thing about his sport: “Getting up! It’s usually in the 5:30 A.M. range. I enjoy swimming and really trying to push myself…if I can wake up in time.”
Words he lives by: “Appreciate the journey. I swim four hours a day for two years to prepare for one race that’s 59 seconds long and another that’s less than two minutes. People are like, ‘Why would you do that?’ But to me, it’s not just about the outcome. When you’re in a sport like this, so much of it is the journey and so little of it is the race.”

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The Speed Demon: Nathan Adrian

The 50- and 100-meter freestyle swimmer, 23, is the top-rated sprinter in the U.S. He’s also a public health major at the University of California, Berkeley.
Most embarrassing pool moment: “I was on the blocks right before a race recently, and when I bent over, I felt the entire back of my suit rip. I couldn’t stop the meet, so I just said, Hey, whatever, I’ve gotta swim now. And I dove in and did my thing.” (And beat Michael Phelps despite the wardrobe malfunction. Nice.)
Something almost no one knows about him: “My middle name is Ghar-Jun—my mom is Chinese—and it means ‘little pony.’ 

Oh, man. Did I just tell you that?!”