Lochte aiming for Olympic Games redemption

·2-min read

US swimmer Ryan Lochte knows what people think of him. He's eager to make them forget the worst.

The swimmer who embarrassed himself and the US five years ago in Rio de Janeiro is seeking to make a record-tying fifth Olympic team.

But time is no longer on Lochte's side. He's 36, married and the father of two young children. His scandalous behaviour in Rio seems so long ago.

"My life has completely changed," he said, gray streaking the temples of his closely cropped hair.

Michael Phelps, now retired and a father of three, knows the daunting challenge his former teammate and rival faces at the trials that begin Sunday.

"You're older. You're different. Your body changes. Your mentality is different," Phelps said before the coronavirus pandemic pushed back the Tokyo Olympics by a year, seemingly making it even harder for Lochte.

"You can't do as much in the pool. The other things outside the pool take up your time."

But still Lochte persists.

"More than anything I want to make the Olympic team and medal at the Olympics," he said. "That would be proving a lot of people wrong and that's what I want to do."

Lochte is seeded 15th in the 400-metre individual medley, which opens the trials.

He's entered in six events over the eight-day meet, although it's unlikely he'll swim every one.

The 200 IM, in which he still owns the world record set in 2011, appears to be his best chance. He's seeded fifth.

"I don't have that target on my back anymore," he said. "I know I'm hunting them instead of being the hunter."

His days of drinking to excess and carousing until the wee hours ended some time after Rio.

That's where Lochte lied about being robbed at gunpoint at a gas station, along with three teammates. He later apologised, got suspended by USA Swimming for 10 months, and lost his major sponsors.

Two years later, Lochte was suspended 14 months by the US Anti-Doping Agency after he posted a photo online of him getting a vitamin B-12 infusion, which exceeded allowable limits.

"I've changed my life around completely," he said. "I'm a better person, I'm more grown up. I'm a family man, I'm a dad and a husband."

Lochte is already one of the greats of the sport. His 12 medals, including six gold, make him the second-most decorated swimmer in Olympic history behind only Phelps. Dara Torres and Natalie Coughlin also have 12 career medals.

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