EAST MEADOW, N.Y. (AP) Ryan Lochte had a surprising reaction to his latest record-setting performance.
“A little disappointed,” Lochte said after breaking the meet record in the finals of the 200 meter individual medley Sunday at the U.S. Open.
Lochte’s time of 1:59.24 bested the previous mark of 1:59.26 set by Michael Phelps on Nov. 30, 2006. Xavier Mohammed finished second in 2:00.47, and Sam Stewart was third in 2:01.51.
“Whether I broke a world record or not, I always feel like I could go faster. No matter what the time was tonight, I knew I could faster,” Lochte said. “Overall, that was just not a good race.”
Lochte, who set the 200 IM world and American record (1:54:00) on July 28, 2011, started well in this race and was in second place at the first turn. After the second turn, the only question was how much Lochte would win by.
Yet, he was self-critical of his performance.
“The first part of the fly I felt fine and then I don’t know what happened,” Lochte said. “I think I tried too hard and it just backfired on me.”
The weeklong event at the Nassau County Aquatic Center was Lochte’s first USA Swimming-sanctioned meet after a 10-month suspension for his behavior during an incident at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
After a night out with teammates Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and James Feigen, Lochte had claimed in an interview with NBC that the taxi the swimmers were in had been pulled over and the athletes were robbed at gunpoint. In a subsequent interview with NBC, Lochte said he “over-exaggerated” the incident.
However, Brazilian authorities, citing videotape evidence, revealed the swimmers were confronted by security personnel after destroying a gas station bathroom.
Lochte eventually posted a mea culpa on his Twitter account.
Following a fifth place finish in the 100 backstroke Saturday, Lochte said he viewed the 200 IM as an “indicator” of what he needed to work on in order to compete for a spot on the 2020 U.S. Olympic Swim Team. He went on to say that he only trained “once or twice a week” due to he and fiancee Kayla Rae Reid preparing for the birth of their infant son, Caiden.
When he spoke with reporters Sunday, Lochte reiterated his belief that he made the right decision to focus on his family life before stressing he was now planning on preparing for the 2020 Summer Olympics.
“It’s time for me to start doing my job. I’m not going to take a break after this. I’m just going to get back in and actually start training and start getting focused and start my swimming journey for 2020,” Lochte said. “I (have) three years. I need to get back to training and actually train. There’s only one way to go now and that’s up.”
Lochte, 33, would turn 36 during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Should he qualify for the team, it would mark Lochte’s fifth Games. He represented America in the 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympics. Of his 12 Olympic medals, three have come in the 200 IM – silvers in 2004 and 2012, and bronze in 2008.
Lochte qualified for the final with a time of 1:56.22 in the preliminaries, nearly three seconds faster than Michael Andrew (1:59.12). Mohammed (1:59.29), John Shebat (1.59.70) and Grant Sanders (2:01.26) rounded out the top five preliminary round finishers.
“It’s a starting point,” Lochte said.