New Ryan Lochte Doc Paints Sympathetic Picture, But Raises Deeper Questions

I’ve found myself rooting for Ryan Lochte since his return to the national stage in summer 2019. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about why that’s the case — he has repeatedly brought negative attention to the sport and to himself for making undeniably poor choices, and yet, I’m always drawn back by his “party boy-turned-family man” narrative.

His latest foray to the small screen, “In Deep with Ryan Lochte” – while entertaining – did little to quell that confusion.

The 69-minute film is a well-executed attempt by NBC to paint Lochte as a sympathetic figure. I teared up at times, laughed at others, oohed and awed over his kids, and found his work ethic admirable. On a surface level, content-hungry swim fans will enjoy the insider look at one of the sport’s biggest stars.

  • “In Deep with Ryan Lochte” is available for free on Peacock, the new streaming service from NBCUniversal.

But I also was appalled at footage surrounding the infamous Rio incident – much of which I hadn’t seen before – which dragged an entire nation through the mud before Lochte’s story was revealed as fraudulent. And then I sympathized when Lochte discusses how the ordeal affected him, financially and emotionally. And then I rolled my eyes again at his IV fluids suspension, but I felt for him as he changed his son’s diaper in the middle of a gym. You get the point.

Then I considered: in this day and age, why are we so quick to forgive Lochte? And I don’t have an answer.

We give Lochte the benefit of the doubt that he is a “good guy” at heart, while minorities around the United States can only dream of being afforded the same. Innocent Black people are being shot dead in their homes while Lochte is on a redemption tour. Even in swimming, for that matter, Sun Yang has been cast aside as a villain for not-dissimilar behavior — he’s just “othered” by a Western audience.

Maybe it’s because Lochte’s long been a flashy, charismatic figure in a sport that doesn’t have an excess of them, and that’s exciting. Or maybe it’s because his raw talent, removed from his antics, was (and maybe is?) practically unmatched. “In Deep” doesn’t really answer the question.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t watch the documentary – you absolutely should – and I’m not saying you can’t root for Lochte. But we owe it to the current national moment to watch it with a skeptical eye.

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Here before the comments become the wild wild west

Irish Ringer

My goodness. Just when you thought Covid was going to dominate the conversation a new topic emerges.


What did I miss????


Head first into a political abyss… (head first into the abyss)


Can’t we talk about a sports figure without feeling obliged to lament (Lochte’s) “white privilege”? Seriously? In this case, I have watched Lochte for many years, at times brilliant, at times goofy, the more human mirror image of the more straight-laced Phelps, his contemporary and arch rival? When I think of Lochte, I remember his mano a mano with Phelps at the 2008 Trials when they both broke the 400 IM world record; I also remember his yellow-green hair in Rio, when chlorine reacted with whatever hair color he put on. Sun was twice caught for breaking doping rules, and he also happens to be an unsympathetic figure. And in case you think I am anti -Asian, I will tell… Read more »

Corn Pop

Sun could have gained a TUE for his 1st infringement but a look at the numbers that were approved that year shows n o n Eng l i sh speaking countries were not up with this Out. His 2nd infringement is under appeal.with a Swiss court. That pathetic CAS show tri a was not only personally racial but served to demonstrate how ppl fare when every competition, every tribunal , every interview is in English & dependant on translators . English Language Privilege is real..


Call in the Trump-worshipping swimswam trolls to politicize this simple observation of a documentary. Buckle up, friends.


You have it wrong IvankaBeans, the article itself politicized the “this simple observation of documentary” without help from what you call “Trump-worshipping swimaswam trollls”. And if you look for a troll just look in the mirror.


Human rights aren’t political, my friend. But clearly you’re incapable of recognizing the very real problems and issues that affect millions of Americans daily, and have NOTHING to do with Republican/Democrat, liberal/conservative.

One of our sports biggest stars happens to be one of the most highly visible representations of white American male privilege. It’s absolutely fair for a site that covers swimming to provide context to a documentary that clearly has an agenda in how he is portrayed.

Sit down.

Hot Take

If human rights aren’t political, then why does ‘Black Lives Matter’ – as an organization, not a statement – also call for defunding police, removing Trump from office, abortions, and so much more?

Also MD Also Swimdad

You are so spot on. If the BLM movement supports abortions, clearly, the entire concept of “human rights” cannot possibly transcend partisanship. Also, have you seen Papa John’s tweets? Or the Hobby Lobby CEO’s support of Trump? I declare right here right now that pizza and arts/crafts are also political, amirite?!


For years liberal policies have been made to lift up the minorities, but the policies of #45 brought record low unemployment across all demographics. That’s called scoreboard my friends…pay your respects.

tea rex

Cut off the X-axis labels and point to where 45 was elected. I don’t see any change in the trend.


Nothing other than a 3% change in the unemployment rate.


Umm, pay respects to whom for doing what? If you mean every reader should pay respect to Trump for black unemployment rates, specify what the respect is (he of the Obama isn’t even the president; he of the Hillary didn’t even beat me lie—and he had Chris Kobach and three years to come up w something and produced nothing) and specifically what policies he has signed into law that have specifically aided black employment. Please add how that trend has been trending since March, just after he said “we are at 15 [COVID cases] and we are going very significantly down, not up.” Trump is in the last leg of his IM. Don’t stop the clock at the beginning of… Read more »


There’s always 2024 for you guys. Biden will be too old, but maybe you can field a healthy candidate next time around.


Is this the type of people on Team Biden these days? Hard pass.


Biden probably doesnt even know

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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