In 2009 Ricky Berens, gained not just national attention outside of the pool but rather international attention. Even the Huffington Post declared him a de facto celebrity filing him under "celebrity skin" and five other "tags" so people could easily find him after he suffered a tech suit mishap.
Circa 2008/2009 techsuit failures with the moral equal of a NASCAR crash but the stands and the fans loved them. (Now read those last four words slowly: "...the fans loved them.") In fact there were 31-pages of comments regarding the incident with most, if not all of them, flattering in a low brow sort of way. Rickey Berens sold the crowd and the Huffington Post with both his body and his accomplishments.
To really show how impressed Huffington was with the incident, they even created a photo gallery dedicated to the mishap featuring 9-stock images from Getty and if you have ever dealt with Getty, they are expensive. That photo gallery must have cost the Huffington Post presumably $1,000 since Getty will never charge less than $100 for a sports photo and if they do charge that little they insist you take it down within three months. The Berens' gallery is still there today.
The techsuit failure was covered by AP News, The Telegraph, The Advocate, The Washington Post, and dozens more. Google searches turned and burned and went ballistic!
Best of all, he was demonstrably a good sport about it, he handled it in a genuine charismatic way, and the next best part is that he is still a contender. TYR got themselves a star!
Huffington Post article and photo gallery: [Link]
TYR Press Release snippet:
"... At the 2009 FINA World Championships, Berens was again part of the Gold Medal-winning 800m freestyle relay team, breaking the world record they had set at the Olympics by .01. Berens’ relay split of 1:44.13 was the fastest split on the American team and their total time of 6:58.55 is still standing as the world record. In addition, Berens earned his second World Championship medal by being a part of the preliminary round of the 400m freestyle relay that later went on to win gold.
Berens also claimed international victories at the 2007 Pan American Games where he captured three medals; a gold in the 400m Medley Relay, and two silvers in the 400m and 800m freestyle relays. ..."TYR Press release: [Link]