Ryan Lochte Talks About Going from 'Hero to Zero,' and How He's 'Bettering' Himself Every Day

Ryan Lochte
Ryan Lochte

Ryan Lochte/Instagram Ryan Lochte

Ryan Lochte has learned a lot from his mistakes and hopes others do as well.

The decorated Olympic swimmer — who won 12 medals over four Summer Games — is reflecting on one of the lowest moments of his career during an appearance on leadership expert Adam Mendler's Thirty Minute Mentors podcast, out Tuesday.

Lochte, now 37, was suspended by USA Swimming for 10 months and he lost more than $1 million in sponsorships after it was revealed that he and some of his teammates lied about being robbed at gunpoint during the 2016 Rio Games. The claim was an exaggeration to cover up a confrontation with armed security guards over alleged vandalism.

A charge against him was ultimately dismissed and he's repeatedly apologized for his behavior, as he now recounts going "from hero to zero in a blink of an eye."

"And just like that, no matter what I've accomplished in the pool or out, it went all to waste in a matter of minutes. But I mean, I did it to myself," he admits, noting that there's "no one else to blame."

The experience, he tells Mendler, woke him up.

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"I just started bettering myself every day," he explains. "Like I was like, 'Man, I gotta just, I got to do my same things that I do for the swimming pool. I got to take it outside of the swimming pool now.' So I started working on myself, I met my wife, we have two beautiful kids. I'm like, man, this is the direction I'm going."

There have still been hiccups in the years since Rio. He was suspended again in 2018 for violating a restriction on IV use. Later that year, he entered a month-long rehab program for alcohol after a run-in with police.

Yet he made a triumphant return to the pool in the run-up to the Tokyo Games, though Lochte ultimately failed to qualify to compete in Japan.

Still, he sees the lesson in all experiences: "So everything that happens in life, like you have to just learn from it the goods and the bads."

"And one biggest thing, lesson that I learned from what happened in '16 was you know, in life, you're gonna get knocked down. I mean, that's just the way it is. But it's how you get up and keep moving forward," Lochte says in the podcast. "That's what really is going to determine who you are. And I found that I got up."

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His wife, Kayla Rae Reid, with whom he shares son Caiden, 4, and daughter Liv, 2, gets a lot of credit for his success now, Lochte says, calling her his "special companion."

Later in the podcast, Lochte gushes of Reid, "She seriously is my rock."

"She's helped me through everything, through the thick and thin, she went through it with me," he says. "She was like my guardian angel that motivated me, that little angel being like, 'Hey, keep going, keep going, keep fighting, you're better than this, you're better than this."