Ryan Lochte talks Nirvana, music playlist

For ESPN The Magazine's Feb. 18 Music Issue, we persuaded 14 athletes to re-create some of the most memorable album covers. As part of our supplemental coverage on Playbook Sounds, we will be running behind-the-scenes interviews with each athlete, as well as their own personal playlists.

• Athlete: Ryan Lochte, Olympic gold-medal swimmer

• As: The baby on Nirvana’s "Nevermind" (1991)

What was your reaction upon hearing about this shoot?

I was excited because they wanted to shoot me in my element and in water. I was thrilled they wanted me. When I'm in the water, I couldn't be more happy.

What do you know about Nirvana?

I know of Nirvana, and I've listened to a couple of their songs, but it's not on my normal playlist that I would listen to to go to a swim meet.

Do you know the cover?

I definitely know the cover. The cover is definitely well-known.

Any comparisons to you and the cover baby?

I honestly think I nailed the shot, and if you look at the baby he's definitely happy in the water and that's what I am. And look , he's chasing after a dollar bill. So he's always on the grind. That's me.

What was the shoot like?

Trying to perfect the perfect shot in the water is kind of easy for me because I spend about four hours a day, every day of my life in the water. So anything where I have to do something in the water is pretty easy.

It seemed like your eyes started to bother you.

Usually when I go swimming I have goggles on. Today I didn't have them and my eyes were burning, but I was able to deal with it.

What was the best part of the shoot?

Being in the water. There's just something about me when I step into the water. I could be having the worst day but once I set foot in it, it just makes me happy.

What role does music play in your sport?

Music has a big role in my life. I listen to music every day nonstop, it's what gets me going. On the way to swim practice, or big swim meets, at the Olympics -- it just gets me in that zone. It calms me down and gets me ready for what I need to accomplish.

My all-time favorite song is “Sky's the Limit” by Lil Wayne. It just gets me in the right mood. Every time I listen to it, I know it's time to race, time to go out there and go for the gold. At the end of the day, no matter how many gold medals I have, or how many world records I break, I am still hungry and sky's the limit.

What do you think the reaction will be to your shoot?

Hopefully everyone's reaction will be: daaaang, look at that guy.

See more of the Ryan Lochte shoot in the full photo gallery.

Vote on your favorite "Cover Acts" photo in the SportsNation poll.

Look out for Ryan’s new show, “What Would Ryan Lochte Do?” premiering on the E! Network on April 21.

The Playlist: Ryan Lochte