By Shoshanna Rutemiller
PHOENIX, Arizona, June 18. RYAN Lochte admitted earlier this year that he would love to be on ABC's The Bachelor. And why not? Fans have seen him looking for love (somewhat unsuccessfully) on his E! reality show What Would Ryan Lochte Do? On paper, USA Swimming's most eligible bachelor seems like the perfect fit for a dating show built around one man's attempts at finding love amongst a selection of 20+ female contestants. Lochte is young, single, successful, good looking and has the work ethic needed to accumulate a pile of Olympic medals. But is he — or any professional swimmer for that matter — the best option for a network show?
With casting for ABC's The Bachelor's 18th season underway, Swimming World caught up with Lacey Pemberton, the leading casting director of the hit reality TV show to get an idea of what goes into choosing the Bachelor and — dare we say it? — if a swimmer would be a good fit.
“We're looking at all different types of guys, not just athletes or swimmers,” said Pemberton, when asked about casting's specific interest in swimmers as contestants. “[Reaching out to swimmers] just happened to be something we started talking about and it was as good of an idea as any. I really look for — well, I mean, looks play a part – but [looks] aren't always the biggest thing we're looking for; it's more of an energy, someone who's ready to take this crazy leap of faith.”
“In years past, we have [talked to professional athletes],” Pemberton said. “Over the years, the 10 or 11 years we've been doing this, we've reached out to just about everyone in a sense. The response is always good; you just never know if someone is going to be at the right time in their life to have this opportunity.”
So when is the “right time” for a professional swimmer to put their training on hold for the show's required nine weeks of taping? Is the post-Olympic year lull the perfect time? A handful of swimmers scaled back on their training following the London Olympics. Although Lochte was the most visible of the bunch, filling up his schedule with promotional gigs for WWRLD?, Cullen Jones also admitted to having a hard time getting back in the water following the Olympic Games.
“I wouldn't [convince them to take the time off],” said Pemberton. “It has to be the right timing for them because they don't want to sacrifice their career. Athletes have a short career as it is. They've worked hard to get where they are. I would never condone [giving up] that.”
“If it works out and they are not busy or they are a retired athlete, that's a different story,” Pemberton continued. “There are a lot of variables. But would I ask someone to take time off from their athletic career to do this? No.”
Retired athletes… hmmm…. dare we suggest Michael Phelps? Reportedly, he's still single. A nomination for The Greatest Olympian of All Time wouldn't be too out of the ordinary: Pemberton says that the show's casting department has received third party and personal nominations from professional athletes in the past.
“We always get lots of interest [from athletes],” Pemberton said. “I won't be specific, but it's never worked out. We've never gone for the really high-profile people. Usually their lives are really busy and it's difficult for them to do this, but we certainly entertain the thought of anyone that is interested.”
“The main thing is not so much what the person does for a living; it's more about their personality and the energy they bring to this and the sincerity of it. This isn't a platform to showcase yourself or your career, it's about being at a place in their life where they are looking for someone and this might be the opportunity.”
So, there you have it, single swimmers! If you are willing to part from the pool for nine weeks and travel the globe with the hopes of falling in love, this is your chance.
“You never know who you might meet,” said Pemberton. “We've all fixed our friends up on blind dates. Sometimes we've been terribly wrong and sometimes we're right. It's like real life, there's no magic solution to it.”
So, the question remains: who do you think would be the ideal swimming Bachelor?