Ryan Lochte, one of the most recognizable faces in swimming, has spoken up on the depression he faced after missing the 2021 Olympic team last summer.
Lochte, a 12-time Olympic medalist, recently sat down with former NFL quarterback Jay Cutler on the Uncut with Jay Cutler podcast to discuss everything from his career at the University of Florida, to the difficulties he’s faced outside of the pool in recent years and his designs on going all-in on the FINA World Cup in 2022.
Lochte made a push to qualify for his fifth Olympic team last summer, ultimately falling shy after placing seventh in the men’s 200 IM final at the U.S. Trials in Omaha.
The 37-year-old said that, other than his incident in Rio de Janeiro after the 2016 Olympics, missing the Tokyo Olympic team was the toughest situation he’s faced and the first time he really experienced depression.
“That was very tough,” Lochte said. “You know, throughout my whole swimming career and everything I’d been through, I never went through depression. And it was one of the hardest things besides 2016, was just waking up and looking myself in the mirror and being like, ‘damn, I’m a failure.'”
Cutler later asked Lochte about all of the ups and downs he’s incurred over the course of his career, including the 2016 incident in Rio and the suspension he received in 2018.
“More downs than I would like,” Lochte said. “You learn from everything that happens, good or bad. Probably you learn more from the bad things, and I had rude awakenings.”
After the 2016 Olympics, Lochte claimed he and three other members of the U.S. Olympic swim team were robbed at gunpoint which was later found to be untrue.
In 2018, he was suspended by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency for 14 months for taking an IV in a volume greater than 100mL in a 12-hour period without a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE).
“Being where everyone loved me, and I was on top of the world I felt like, and then, in one stupid night, gone. I was like the worst guy in the world, or something at one point,” he added, specifically referring to the Rio incident.
FINA World Cup Plans
Lochte also said that he’s planning on racing the FINA World Cup circuit in the fall of 2022, meaning he will continue to train through this year.
“I’m still going to swim, I’m still swimming one more year,” he said. “I want to do the World Cup in the fall. So I’ve never done it and I want to do it. So I’m going to be training for that.”
Lochte told Cutler he’ll likely first compete this year in March, presumably at the first Pro Swim Series event of the year in Des Moines, Iowa (March 2-5), and then plans on ramping things up into the fall where he wants to challenge for the overall title on the World Cup circuit.
“If I win the whole thing, that’s a lot of money,” he said. “And it’s worth it.”
Asked if he feels he can actually win it, Lochte said: “I can, I’ve just got to get really strong in the weight room. I’ve got to get back to my old self. Which…I’m ready.”
“If it’s only one more year, I might as well go all-in.”
In 2021, the overall winner of the FINA World Cup earned $100,000, with prize money given out after each individual meet as well.
A schedule for the FINA World Cup in 2022 has not yet been announced, though meets typically run from September to November.
Cutler also asked Lochte about the current transgender debate in the sport, with trans woman Lia Thomas holding the fastest time in the NCAA in the women’s 200 and 500 freestyle.
“The (biological) girls, they trained, they have these records,” Lochte said. “Then all of a sudden this happens.
“I mean, I don’t have anything wrong with it. It’s just, when you take her times and put it to the (biological) girls, she has an advantage. And it’s not fair to the other women. So they do have to have rules, like what (Michael) Phelps said.”
Lochte also touches on the following topics:
- How his life (and attitude towards swimming) changed after having kids.
- That he realized he could make the Olympic team after his freshman year at the University of Florida.
- How he was the ‘big man on campus’ at UF after making the 2004 Olympics and winning two medals.
- That he went to the University of Florida solely for swimming and wasn’t planning on what he would do with his life if being a professional athlete didn’t work out.
- How he apologizes to anyone who tells him they watched his reality show, What Would Ryan Lochte Do?
Watch the full episode below: