Ryan Lochte capped off his return to competitive swimming after a 14-month ban with a victory in the 200-meter individual medley at the Phillips 66 U.S. National Championships on Sunday, and for Lochte, it could just the beginning.
FILE PHOTO: Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte of the U.S speaks at a news conference at an event to unveil the new line of Speedo LZR Racer X swim suits in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S. on December 15, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Lochte, 35, captured the title – his first U.S. championship since 2014 — with a time of 1:57.76.
“It didn’t feel good at all,” Lochte said. “I just remember years ago it feeling so much easier, but I mean it’s a starting point for me.”
Lochte is a 12-time Olympic medalist and will be vying to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Games, which would be his fifth appearance in the Olympics.
His national championship puts him into consideration for one of the two 200 IM slots the U.S. will have in Tokyo. His competitors include Chase Kalisz, a medley specialist who won the 200IM world championships in 2017, as well as Michael Andrew and Abrahm DeVine, both of whom have top-10 times in the world in the event this year.
Since the 2016 Summer Olympics, Lochte has not spent much time in the pool. He served a 10-month ban for vandalizing a gas station and then lying about it during the 2016 Rio Games before his most recent 14-month ban for an unauthorized intravenous infusion. Lochte also went to rehab for alcohol during his most recent ban.
During that time span, he also has gotten married and had two children. He said he is now “100 percent family.”
He said he is working to reach the 2020 Olympics to show his children that “if you have a dream and a goal and work on it every day, you can achieve anything.”
“I’m having fun swimming again, and I haven’t had fun since the 2012 Olympics. … I can honestly say I’m stepping out on that pool deck with a smile on my face, and I owe it all to my kids and my wife,” Lochte said at a news conference last week. “They’ve been my backbone throughout this whole journey.”
—Field Level Media