Ricky Berens, who won gold and set a world record alongside Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, and Peter Vanderkaay in the men’s 4 x 200m freestyle relay in Beijing, will try to repeat the feat Tuesday. Here are five reasons EW readers in particular should root for him.
1. He’s endured an infamous wardrobe malfunction: At the 2009 World Championships, his suit split down the back. “You Google me, it’s a porn site that pops up,” he told EW earlier this year, laughing. “It doesn’t get much worse than that.” Well, it could have split down the front. “It could have,” he concedes. “At least the camera didn’t have a view when I flipped the turn. I’m sure the ref had an interesting view.”
2. He’s a Game of Thrones fan. “It’s a perfect guy’s show. There’s a lot of killing. There’s a lot of…” Sex? “Am I allowed to say that?” he asks, laughing again. “It keeps you on your toes. There’s a good cliffhanger every week. I actually wait until the season is done, and then I download the whole thing so I don’t have to wait a whole week in between episodes.”
3. His response when asked to name his favorite inspirational sports movies. “There aren’t any great inspirational swimming movies. We have like, Swimfan, but it’s not very inspirational,” he says. “Rocky and Miracle. Those are the two big ones. The Fighter with Christian Bale is a good movie… Is Cool Runnings considered inspirational? Do you get the chills watching that one?”
4. He’s a gamer. “I’m a 24-year-old boy. I play a lot of Call of Duty.” Is he competitive? “Any Olympic athlete, I think we’re all way too competitive. If I’m playing it for like five minutes, and I’m just getting killed, I turn it off. And if I’m losing at a football game against my little brother, it’s a restart button.”
5. He’s read The Hunger Games. Team Peeta or Team Gale? “Is that like a Twilight question?” he asks. “I like Peeta.”
Bonus fun fact: Berens is one of the athletes teamed with BMW to help U.S. Swimming with new technology. Engineers put sensors on his joints to work on the dolphin kick. “Before, all we had were videos to compare. We didn’t know what makes us go faster. Now, they’re going to be able to calculate how fast you’re moving, how fast you kick, and how much power you get from each kick. They’re gonna tell us what movement works better for us,” he says. “It’s something that no other country has.”