Welcome to the Pro Pool: Lochte Like Gold for Brands; Thorpe Questioned on Spending; Phelps Eats Right for the Wall Street Journal

Things are definitely heating up in the world of Olympic swimming.  As we get closer to the London games, the headlines are focusing more intensely on the training, lives and livelihoods of the elite swimmers and their prospects for medaling this summer.

Front and center in the Australian spotlight is Ian Thorpe.  The five time Olympic champion has been hard at work on a comeback – which is great for him and the sport.  But the national swimming organization in Australia, Swimming Australia, has reportedly spent $150K (Australian dollars) on his conditioning – about ten times the amount other athletes have received.  The money reportedly went to specialized training in the Middle East and Switzerland, while other athletes have trained at home.  Thorpe has denied getting preferential funding, but he’s still had to address the issue to the press.  Hopefully this hasn’t diverted his attention from training.  Critics are already giving him low odds of medaling or even making the team this year.  I hope the critics are wrong – it would be great to see the Thorpedo in action again this year.  More on Thorpe’s training/funding issue here.

Here at home in the U.S., Ryan Lochte is proving to be gold for brands like Speedo, Gatorade, Ralph Lauren, Gillette and Mutual of Omaha.  Lochte, a longtime teammate of 2008 Olympic star Michael Phelps, is expected to bring home around five gold medals this year.  Brands foresee another Phelps-like moment with golden boy Lochte showcasing a chest of gold medals.  Lochte is a bit of a stand out; most brands see Olympic athletes as a bit of a risk for two reasons – first, there is no certainty that an athlete will medal and second, the public’s focus on an Olympic athlete tends to fade between games.  Good luck Lochte – I do hope you bring home the gold, but even if you don’t you’re probably set for life.  Read more about Lochte’s sponsors here or follow him on twitter here: @ryanlochte.

And speaking of Phelps, he’s eating again.  Actually, his eating was featured in the Wall Street Journal’s health blog again.  The Journal originally featured a piece detailing the elite swimmer’s 12,000 calorie per day diet during the height of his 2008 Olympic glory.  To celebrate the fifth anniversary of its health blog, the Journal re-posted the story this week.  With more than 475 comments on the post, it seemed like a fittingly popular piece to re-run.  Incidentally, Phelps cleaned house at the Columbus Grand Prix swim this past weekend, taking home three golds, including one in the 100m freestyle event.  Check out the diet post here or follow Phelps on twitter here: @michaelphelps.