Ryan Lochte is back with a new perspective on life.
Earlier this week, while returning to competitive swimming for the first time following a 14-month ban, the 12-time Olympic medalist opened up about his decision to seek alcohol treatment in Florida last year for about six weeks.
“I think it was getting to a point in my life where I needed a change,” he shared on Wednesday at the U.S. National Championships, adding that since seeking treatment, he’s limited himself to having a glass of wine following the birth of his now 6-week old daughter Liv Rae in June.
“Since [2-year-old son] Caiden and my new daughter Liv has been born I have a new perspective on life and I’m definitely not the same person that I was,” the swimmer, who will turn 35 on Saturday, shared.
“I went there because I needed help. I need to change some things in my life,” Lochte, who married wife Kayla in 2018, said. “That’s what I went there for and I came out a better man,” he added later on in the press conference.
Now that Lochte is allowed to compete again, the swimmer has his eyes set on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Competing in the U.S. national championships at Stanford University, Lochte recorded the fourth-fastest time by an American in a time trial for the 200-meter individual medley — an event he also holds the world record in.
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The fast finish means Lochte has qualified for next year’s Olympic trials, although the professional swimmer is aware he has a lot of hard work ahead of him in order to earn his place on Team USA.
“Swimming has been my second priority,” the 12-time Olympic medalist remarked at the press conference, as he explained that he’s treating the event as a “stepping stone to see where I’m at in the swimming world.”
Admitting that he has a “long journey” ahead of him, the athlete explained that his “big goal” is “to reach the podium” at next year’s Olympic games.
“I do it for me and my family. I’m having fun again,” he added. “My wife and kids have been my backbone. It’s awesome.”
Last year, Lochte was banned from competition for 14 months because of an illegal IV infusion. (Although the substance itself was not banned, infusions are strictly prohibited unless directly related to hospital treatment or procedures.)
Prior to that, he also received a 10-month suspension from the sport.
At the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, Lochte was charged with falsely communicating a crime because of an interview he did with NBC News in which he said he and three other members of the United States swim team were robbed at gunpoint at a Shell gas station while returning to the Olympic Village.
He later admitted that he still wasn’t sure what really happened the night of the incident. The Rio police held a news conference a few days later and said the swimmers had vandalized the restroom in the service station.