Having helped Michael Phelps break the Olympic record for total medals (both won gold in yesterday’s 4×200 freestyle relay), America’s rock star swimmer now prepares to go against him again. With their final shared event, the 200 individual medley, kicking off today, Ryan Lochte filled us in about rivalries, fitness and why he’s a little ticked at the US Olympic Committee.

MADE MAN: Congrats on becoming the US poster boy for this Olympics. Is it weird to finally be in the spotlight when before London, you’d already won six medals?
It is a little weird. I’m just a normal guy who grew up in Daytona Beach with a real love for swimming. To now be recognized as one of the best swimmers in the world for doing something I just grew up loving so much is crazy to me.

MM: Your battles with Michael Phelps have made a lot of news. How do you guys get along outside the pool? Note: it’s totally cool to say you hate the very air he breathes.
We are cool. We have a lot of respect for each other. I think we have made each other better swimmers. This whole Olympic experience wouldn’t be the same without him pushing me harder and having a great rivalry. I might not hang out with Michael on a day-to-day basis, but I have mad respect for the guy.

This whole experience wouldn’t be the same without him pushing me harder and a great rivalry. I might not hang out with Michael on a day-to-day basis, but I have mad respect for the guy.

MM: Your hair seems pretty short now. Do you feel that enables you to swim faster than when you had a more flowing mane?
No, I think it’s all the same… once the swim cap is on!

MM: What’s your best tip for the average guy who wants to be a stronger swimmer?
You have to incorporate a solid weight routine in addition to having a great swim coach who can push you and who knows how to strengthen your weaknesses.

MM: You’re obviously in great shape. Got a fitness tip for us?
RL: Swim! It’s the best exercise around! Also, good core exercises daily are important to overall fitness. And eat nutritiously, because what you put into your body affects every aspect of its performance and the way it looks!

MM: On a related note, tell us about your new fitness video.
RL: I developed Lochte HardCore to share some of my core training secrets with my fans. So many people begin a workout program and wonder why they fail. The main reason is the foundation of their body is not strong enough to support all the other exercises being performed correctly. Starting with the core allows you to have better control over every part of your body, which will in turn allow you to see results from any workout much faster. It’s really a hard video and it even challenged me when we shot it. I was worn out! But I know if people follow it, they will see great results.

The Lochte Ness Monster: sent from space to dominate the water.

MM: Any other cool business ventures we should know about?
RL: My Ryan Lochte online store, which has some specialty glasses that my fans have really loved! I also have a line of Lochte T-shirts and plan to expand into my own clothing line. [Unfortunately,] the online store has to be taken down during the Olympic blackout period [July 18 to August 15] because they do not allow athletes to sell any products during that time. Really upsetting. I think that’s my biggest gripe with the USOC, because we really should be able to make a living!

MM: Wikipedia tells us your nicknames are The Lochtenator and Imperial. How the hell is The Lochte Ness Monster not on this list?
RL: Oh, it’s on the list! People call me that all the time! Wikipedia needs to pick it up and get with it! And my fans have come up with the name Lochtenators for themselves. I call them Lochte Nation. Because they are truly a nation of some great fans, and we are going for the gold together!

MM: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received, and who gave it to you?
RL: Always have fun, love what you are doing and live life to the fullest because you never know what tomorrow brings. My mother.

MM: Any parting words of wisdom?
RL: Stop and take a break sometimes. Life gets so busy, and I think that’s been the hardest part of all this fame for me. When people start taking all my time, sometimes I just have to say stop… I need to be me. I need to take a break. I think a lot of people don’t say stop sometimes, and they just keep going and going until they burn out or until they are depressed or miserable. Sometimes you just have to stop everything… love life and step away from it all. Then when you come back to it, you are stronger, faster, and ready to take on the world.

For more info about Ryan, visit his website, ryanlochte.com. While the sunglasses aren’t available right now, you can still pre-order the workout video there as well.

UPDATE: Lochte picked up more hardware Thursday night, bronze in the 200 backstroke and silver in the 200 individual medley. That brings his total number of Olympic medals to 11, including five gold.