Ryan Lochte on missing Olympic team: 'This is not the last you’re going to see of me'

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OMAHA, Neb. — Ryan Lochte, a controversial veteran of the U.S. Olympic swimming team and the winner of 12 Olympic medals, six of them gold, has failed in his attempt to qualify for his fifth Olympic Games.

Lochte, 36, finished seventh in the men’s 200-meter individual medley Friday night at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials, signifying an end to his long-shot bid to compete in Tokyo next month.

“Swimming has taken me so far,” Lochte said amid tears in a news conference after the race, “and coming out of the water, I was very emotional and was taking it all in.”

His time of 1:59.67 was more than four seconds slower than winner Michael Andrew’s time of 1:55.44 and nearly three seconds behind second-place finisher Chase Kalisz.

Lochte still holds the world record in the event, set 10 years ago in 1:54.00.

Ryan Lochte reacts in the men's 200 Individual Medley Semifinals during the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Omaha.
Ryan Lochte reacts in the men's 200 Individual Medley Semifinals during the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Omaha.

Lochte’s performance from Thursday’s morning preliminaries to evening semifinals sent an ominous signal when he actually went slower from one race to the next, exactly the opposite of conventional swimming strategy. And he went another second slower in Friday’s final, clearly running out of steam the longer he competed.

Since his last appearance at the trials in Omaha in 2016, Lochte has been suspended twice: once for creating an international incident at the Rio Olympics by claiming he had been robbed at gunpoint when in fact he and three other U.S. male swimmers urinated outside a gas station, and the second time for a doping violation after he received a prohibited intravenous injection.

“This is not the last you’re going to see of me,” he said, “whether it’s in the swimming pool or outside the pool trying to make this sport bigger. I don’t know if this will be my last race, I don’t think so — actually I can say it won’t be — there’s still things I want to do.”

But try for another Olympics?

“As for another Olympic trials, I don’t know about that,” he said. “I’ll be 40, that’s pushing it, but we’ll see, I mean anything can happen.”

Andrew, 22, qualified for his second 2021 Olympic event after setting and then breaking the American record in the 100 breaststroke earlier in the meet. He said the trials have been “everything and more” to him this week.

Annie Lazor, 26, won the women’s 200 breaststroke over training mate and Olympic gold medalist Lilly King, who finished second and qualified for Tokyo in her second event. Lazor swam the third-fastest time in the world this year in 2:21.07.

Lazor finished third in the 100 breaststroke, won by King, earlier in the week, just missing the Olympic team. She finished seventh in the 200 breaststroke at the 2016 trials and retired from the sport. But a year later, she decided to come back and moved to Bloomington, Ind., to train with King at Indiana University.

“I just think that hard work works,” she said of her perseverance. “I just pushed off the wall and I was like, ‘You’re 50 meters away from getting it done.’”

Lazor’s father suddenly passed away just two months ago. “The last couple of months I’ve been trying to achieve the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me,” she said, "while going through the worst thing that’s ever happened to me.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ryan Lochte doesn't make US Olympic swim team for Tokyo, 7th at trials

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