Another huge burst of hometown pride for an Olympic champion. On Saturday, Ryan Lochte won a gold medal for the U.S. men's swimming team.
Believe it or not, Ryan Lochte came back to Canandaigua in 2009 to practice. There's a good reason. At the time, he was also visiting his grandmother, who lives in Bloomfield. He was a rising star and he made a big impression.
"He won a gold medal in the Olympics, that's what I want to do when I get older," said Kaitlyn Ringhoff.
"I want to become an Olympic swimmer," said Celina Lillyquist.
For one group of local swimmers it's a dream that seems one stroke closer because of a visit from an Olympic superstar. Canandaigua native, Ryan Lochte, came back to his hometown in 2009. He spent the day with swimmers from Canandaigua Aquatics.
"When he first came in, he walked through those doors, it was a little interesting because he came in with his hoodie on, so my first impression was oh, what are we in for, does this guy really have an ego, is that the kind of impression he is going to leave with these kids, but once he met with the media, and he got his swimsuit on, he was just like a regular swimmer," said Dave Beckwith, Coach of Canandaigua Aquatics.
"It was amazing because I was actually looking at a real Olympian," said Ringhoff.
"I have three words. Modest, humble and gracious," said Beckwith.
Now in 2012, Ryan has started the Olympic games swimming competition with a victory for Team USA. But to these Canandaigua swimmers, Ryan is more than just a gold medalist; he's a hometown hero.
"From a coach's perspective, it's very cool. But from a swimmer's perspective, it was very motivational because these kids realize being from a small town, you don't need to be from Florida, you don't need to be from California, you can be from any small town USA and have the potential, if you work hard enough, to be an Olympic athlete," said Beckwith.
"He's inspired me to work hard and set goals and hopefully make it to nationals," said Meghen Bates.
"When he came to swim in our pool, I felt like I had power after that because he was here and I thought that he made me go faster because after he came, I started dropping a bunch of time," said Lillyquist.
Ryan drew a big crowd that day three years ago. He signed more than 300 autographs and left a lasting impression on the next generation of champion swimmers.