Ryan Lochte believes longtime friendly rival Michael Phelps will “be ready for Rio.”
“There’s no doubt in my mind that he will be back in the water,” Lochte said Tuesday.
Phelps was pulled over and arrested on DUI charges in Maryland on Sept. 30, announced he would attend a six-week program on Oct. 5 and suspended for six months by USA Swimming on Oct. 6. He will not swim at the 2015 World Championships in Kazan, Russia.
Phelps, who came out of a 20-month competitive retirement in April, has not said if or when he will return to swimming competition.
Lochte, a teammate of Phelps at the last three Olympics, correctly predicted two years ago that Phelps would eventually come out of his post-London 2012 retirement.
Lochte believes Phelps will race again with an eye on his fifth Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in two years, because of the same reasons he unretired earlier this year.
“Once you’re in that racing mode, it’s hard to get rid of,” said Lochte, an 11-time Olympic medalist who will swim at the World Short Course Championships in Doha, Qatar, next month. “He missed that excitement.”
Lochte didn’t say whether he has been in contact with Phelps since the arrest.
Natalie Coughlin, also a three-time Olympic teammate of Phelps, said she reached out to Phelps.
“Just to tell him how much we care about him, and we want him to be well,” said Coughlin, a 12-time Olympic medalist who will also race at short course Worlds. “I think he’s taking the proper steps in his life to get his life in order. Hopefully we’ll see him back in the fold. It’s a blessing for us to see him race.”