Ryan Lochte on Nationals Return After Suspension: I Came Out a Better Man (VIDEO)

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Ryan Lochte listens to a question during a press conference at nationals. Photo Courtesy: Connor Trimble

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Ryan Lochte has been waiting for more than a year to compete.

But even though he was suspended, he wasn’t waiting in swimming limbo or some sort of emotional prison.

He was spending time bettering himself.

Lochte checked himself into an alcohol rehab facility when his wife was pregnant with their second child.

“I needed a change. I had a glass of wine when Liv was born, but I hardly (drink),” Lochte said. “I don’t care for it. I am glad I went to rehab. It helped put things in perspective in my life. I am a different person.”

Lochte admits the six-week rehab was a pivotal step.

“I needed help and needed to change some things,” he said. “I came out a better man.”

Lochte, who turns 35 on Sunday, spent the rest of his 14-month suspension soaking in the time with his family — his wife Kayla, son Caiden (2) and daughter Liv, who was born in June.

“It is amazing seeing them being born. Only fathers and mothers understand this. We just made a human being. Every time I look at them I am in awe. How did I get so lucky? It is the greatest feeling being a dad. Anything I do, I do it for them,” Ryan Lochte said. “My life, I feel is complete. Everything I ever wanted growing up is a beautiful wife and kids. I have that and I am so happy.”

But one thing was missing to complete the comeback puzzle — getting back into competition.

After more than a year since his last race, the 12-time Olympic medalist eased in with a time trial in the 200 IM — finishing in an extremely fast 1:57.88 — on Wednesday at the 2019 Phillips 66 US National Championships.

“It has been a long three years really, but it is good to be back racing again. Right now, I am not trying to prove anything to anyone. I am doing this for me and my family,” he said. “Definitely my biggest goal is going to Tokyo in 2020, and hopefully getting on the podium there. I am having fun, and I haven’t had fun swimming since the 2012 Olympics. I can say for the first time in a long time, when I walk out on the pool deck, I have a huge smile on my face — and I owe it all to my kids and my wife. They have been my backbone throughout this journey.”

After the long layoff, Lochte, who has been training with Gregg Troy in Florida, is slated to swim a total of six events at nationals, including the 100 free, 200 free, 100 fly, 100 back, 200 IM and 400 IM.

But after such a long layoff, what does Lochte expect?

“The younger generation is fast. It is incredible to see what they are capable of doing. That is why we have records. They are meant to be broken,” Lochte said. “These swimmers are getting younger, and I am definitely getting older. It is a challenge for me.”

Lochte was serving a suspension from USADA for receiving “an intravenous infusion of permitted substances at an infusion clinic in a volume greater than 100 mL in a 12-hour period without a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE).” While the IV he received did not contain any banned substances, athletes are not supposed to receive any IV unless they have been hospitalized or have filed for a TUE.

“It’s a violation. We have rules to keep our sport clean,” Ryan Lochte said. “My son had to go to the hospital because he was sick and my wife was getting sick. I wanted to stay healthy and swim. I got a vitamin B12 infusion. It is a no-no and I paid the penalty.”

It was the latest of out-of-the-pool mishaps that have often overshadowed his stellar swims in the pool, with the most infamous being the gas station incident in Rio in 2016.

That is the most recent Lochte memory for most people, and he wants to make sure it isn’t the last.

It starts with his week at nationals.

“This nationals is a stepping stone,” he said. “I am back in swimming and want to see where I am at. I have a long journey in the next year to see what I am going to do.”

13 Comments
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3 years ago

Wisdom derived from experience and maturity.

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3 years ago
Reply to  Halim Yussuf

He used the words “wisdom” and “maturity” talking about Lochte… ?

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3 years ago
Reply to  Halim Yussuf

James Hooper It is a natural process for anyone to learn from their mistakes, to become wiser. Do you disagree?

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3 years ago

Banned for what?

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3 years ago
Reply to  Jim Bowser

He didn’t have a TUE when he went for his Vit B12 infusion

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3 years ago

Good for you Ryan !

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3 years ago

B12 infusion

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3 years ago

When is he coming back to Rio? They miss him there.

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banned for vitamin iv..they should give him a break because he obviously ages horribly so he could have done it for cosmetic reasons.nevertheless good to have him back.michael and ryan gave the sport a tremendous push and pretty sure most of the fina revenue is thanks to them..they shouldnt have been that strict on him because of a vitamin iv when thers sun yung in the sport..

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3 years ago

Interesting and excited for you

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3 years ago

Good to see him taking steps in the right direction!

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kberryhill
3 years ago

Why does this site keep posting all the events that he will swim when he clearly didn’t swim the 100 free as posted. Who is doing the editing? He wasn’t even on the heat sheet for the 100fr. You told us everyone else who scratched the 100 but no mention of Lochte. What gives?

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3 years ago

assholes never learn