So long, Ryan

Lochte says he'll move from Gainesville for California

United States' Ryan Lochte wears his gold medal as he waves to spectators after the medal ceremony for men's 400-meter individual medley swimming final at the 2012 Summer Olympics on Saturday, July 28, in London. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa De Olza)

Published: Friday, August 3, 2012 at 9:48 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, August 3, 2012 at 6:26 p.m.

Gainesville, it's time to say goodbye to the American flag grill, the neon-green sneakers and the catch phrase Jeah.

That's right, Gator Olympian Ryan Lochte is leaving.

Even though this city will always be able to claim America's newest golden boy because of his time at the University of Florida and the years he spent here after graduation, the Olympic gold medalist has had enough of post-grad life in a college town, telling The Associated Press he plans to move to California to start a new life.

And though campus pools might never be quite the same, some Gainesvillians can't blame him.

UF President Bernie Machen wrote in an email Friday that even though he and his wife plan to stay in Gainesville for the rest of their lives, he understands where the young swimmer is coming from.

"For a young single person in his late 20s, I can understand why Gainesville might not be too exciting," he wrote. "Our daughter lived here when she was that age and expressed the same feeling."

Machen added that for some, the city is a good fit for post-grad life.

"Gainesville is a wonderful place to live and work for those whose lives and careers are compatible with the lifestyle," he wrote.

Ben Raulerson, bartender at Salty Dog Saloon, gets to see the turnover of young people every few years from behind the bar.

To him, Lochte leaving makes sense.

"What's the shelf life of a college town?" he asked. "Ten years?"

Lochte still plans to do some training at his old stomping grounds, but the 28-year-old said he thinks it's time to move on.

"Being in a college town for so long, it does get old," he told The Associated Press.

Some feel Gainesville is a fine place to settle down.

For CEO of Trendy Entertainment Augi Lye, a UF grad and head of a successful Gainesville-based videogame company, this college town has a lot to offer beyond the diploma.

"Gainesville has the culture of a larger city," he said. "It has the fashion, the concerts and the sporting events of a bigger city, but all with a smaller community."

Raulerson noted that sometimes, the town you leave behind can grow on you.

"Once you leave, you realize what you had," he said. "This town is great."

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