Olympic Gold Medalist Tyler Clary on Professional Gamers, Favorite Gadgets and Rio Goals (Q&A)

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The London 2012 swimming star is an avid gamer who enjoys DJing when he’s not in the pool.

With Michael Phelps now retired, the future of the United States Olympic swimming hopes rests partially on Tyler Clary. The gold-medal-winning swimmer is already preparing for Rio 2016.

When he’s not in the pool, Clary, 23, likes to play video games. He’s also a DJ. Clary was able to blend his two hobbies together this year at the Curse Gaming House in Beverly Hills, where he played DJ to League of Legends pro gamers and others in eSports. Clary talks about his love of gaming in this exclusive interview.

The Hollywood Reporter: How much time did you actually get to enjoy London during the 2012 Games?

Tyler Clary: After I did what I did in the 200 backstroke, it was pretty wild between going to see my family, media relations and things like that. So I actually didn’t have a whole lot of time right after swimming was over to get to enjoy London. I did get to DJ twice in town at a club called Chinawhite; that was absolutely amazing, and I was able to take my girlfriend down to France for a couple of days.

THR: Did you ever play Sega’s London 2012 video games or Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Winter Games?

Clary: I did not know of any Sega video games, but if I had the chance or had known about it, I definitely would have.

THR: What do you think of the fact that Michael Phelps has his own Kinect video game for Xbox 360 called Push the Limit? Have you played it?

Clary: I’ve never played it, but I’ve seen advertisements for it. I think it’s an interesting concept. I’d be curious to see what the gameplay is like.

THR: You DJed at the Curse Gaming House in Beverly Hills. What do you think of the fact that there’s such a thing as professional video game players?

Clary: It’s pretty awesome. One of the guys there put it in an interesting way, but basically you’re a professional being able to mess around all day playing video games, which is pretty nice.

THR: How does that gaming house compare to the Olympic Village apartments?

Clary: Oh, man. If all of the Olympic Village apartments were like the Gaming House, I would have stayed there much longer. The apartments in London were amazing when you consider how many people they had to accommodate, but nothing in comparison to the Curse Gaming House.

THR: Team Curse recently competed for $5 million playing League of Legends. What do you think of how big eSports is today around the globe?

Clary: My first response to that was, “Why was I not told about the tournament?" Secondly, I think it’s good that eSports is becoming so big, because when you think about it, gamers are the ones that are really pushing for the next advancements in gaming technology. The main consumer market is really only going to benefit from that. They’re always looking for the next faster processor, next fastest set of RAM, next fastest large format memory device or anything like that. I think it’s a great thing.

THR: What do you think of League of Legends?

Clary: I think it’s a lot of fun, actually. I was playing it for a little while, and then a couple of my friends that are on the Olympic swimming team were playing Heroes of Newerth, so I started playing that with them. But it’s basically the same thing, so I love that whole defense of the ancients type gameplay. I’m excited for Dota 2.

THR: Were you good at League of Legends?

Clary: I was OK at it. Every once in a while I’d have some games where I’d get really good. I think one of my best scores was 17 and 3, but I don’t know if any of the people that I was playing against were any good. It could have been a bunch of 5-year-olds for all I know.

THR: What video games did you play growing up?

Clary: The first big video game I started playing was Diablo II, and then I went from there to StarCraft and played that for a while. The biggest one that I’ve played for the longest time has been World of Warcraft. I’ve played that since it was released.

THR: What’s your favorite video game memory from when you were younger?

Clary: I’d have to say I have two. One of them involves Dota, and that was going over to my friend Adam’s house. We had LAN parties all the time, and it would just be fun. It would be super late at night, and all of our friends would be over. We’d all start picking on somebody. It was a lot of fun.

World of Warcraft I played for so long. I would play it way too much sometimes during the summer. I still have friends from five or six years ago that I had just played with on World of Warcraft and they’ve supported me, even though I haven’t been playing for a while. They’ll constantly send me messages and stuff about swimming. It’s pretty sweet.

THR: What server are you on on World of Warcraft?

Clary: I’m on several of them. There’s not one particular server that I call mine, but there’s one in particular that I’m looking forward to going back to once I get my gaming computer built.

THR: I heard there’s even an arcade for the Olympians that they built. What was that like?

Clary: I didn’t hear about that, and it’s probably a good thing that I didn’t hear about that.

THR: They don’t tell you anything.

Clary: I guess not. They try to keep us swimmers in the dark.

THR: Do you bring any gaming systems when you travel around?

Clary: If I know that there’s going to be a hookup for it, sometimes I’ll bring my Xbox, but that’s about it.

THR: If they had pro-gaming as an option when you were younger, do you think you would have explored that over swimming?

Clary: I’m not sure, because it wasn’t really something that I got into at a super young age. I was obviously playing the older gaming systems when I was a little kid, but it wasn’t something like, "I want to do this for a living." Only until probably a couple of years ago would I have said, "Yeah, it probably would have been pretty cool if I had known that there was a way to have a life based off this type of stuff." It would have been pretty sweet. So maybe; I don’t know.

THR: What’s your favorite piece of technology or gadget and why?

Clary: I’d have to say the processor in general, because everything that we do is based off of processors now, some of the amazing things that they’re starting to do with carbon nano tubes, and things like that. They’re even getting into the next generation of processor architecture, so I think there’s going to be some really interesting things coming in that whole area.

THR: What are your goals for Rio 2016?

Clary: My goals for Rio 2016 are to come home with at least three gold medals. Hopefully, I can do that some more.