Ryan Lochte said he recently got serious in his comeback from two suspensions and rehab for alcohol addiction. He received pointers from Michael Phelps, according to TODAY.
“My times that I’m doing in practice are things that I’ve seen back when I was at my peak in 2012,” Lochte said in an interview that aired Wednesday morning.
Lochte, 35 and the most decorated active Olympian with 12 medals, is bidding to make his fifth Olympic team next year. He could become the oldest U.S. Olympic male swimmer in an individual event since 1904.
Lochte last competed at the U.S. Championships in early August, winning the 200m individual medley against a field that lacked the top Americans who swam at the July world championships.
Still, his time ranked him fourth in the country for the year. The top two at the Olympic trials in June qualify for the Tokyo Games. Lochte could also try the 200m freestyle, where the top six are likely go to Tokyo for the 4x200m free relay.
Lochte competed at nationals after revealing that he spent six weeks in rehab for alcohol addiction during a 14-month ban for a May 2018 IV infusion of an illegal amount of a legal substance.
In October 2018, Lochte’s attorney said that Lochte had been battling alcohol addiction for many years, and that it had become a destructive pattern for him. Those comments came after TMZ reported that Lochte was involved in an early morning California hotel incident.
When asked at nationals if he still drinks alcohol, Lochte said he had a glass of wine to celebrate the June birth of his daughter, Liv, but that he doesn’t care for it.
“If I was to keep going down this destructive path that I was going to end up … something tragic,” Lochte said on TODAY. “I don’t care to go out and party, to be the loud one anymore.”
Lochte, now a married father of two, said he went into nationals 22 pounds overweight.
“When my daughter was born, training kind of started slipping away,” he said. “So I went to fast food, and I started eating just everything.”
Lochte has since shed 21 of those pounds, according to his social media. Phelps similarly gained weight in his post-2012 retirement. Phelps also spent 45 days in an Arizona rehab facility after a 2014 arrest for driving under the influence that led to a six-month suspension.
“[Phelps has] been giving him pointers on how to make this comeback, in and out of the pool,” TODAY’s Craig Melvin said. “One of the things that Phelps told him he should be doing is leaning on his family for support.”
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