The Olympic swimmer discussed his rehab stint, sobriety and his return to competitive swimming in a new interview.
Ryan Lochte spoke about spending six weeks in rehab for what he felt was problem drinking during a 14-month competitive swimming ban for an IV infusion of Vitamin B12 that exceeded the allowable amount. He claims he took the infusion prior to a meet in order to avoid an illness that had already sent his wife and young son to the hospital.
This followed a 10-month ban served for the incident at the 2016 Rio Olympics in which he and three other swimmers claimed to be robbed by armed men with police badges. This turned out to be a cover story for an alcohol-fueled night ending in property damage, which prompted a security guard to pull a gun on the athletes.
Although neither of the suspensions were directly due to his alcohol use, Lochte made the decision to enter rehab after recognizing that something needed to change.
“I think it was getting to a point in my life where I needed a change,’’ he told USA Today. “So, yes, I checked myself into rehab. I did the classes; I did everything.”
After finishing the program last year, Lochte has remained sober aside from having a single glass of wine to celebrate the birth of his daughter, Liv Rae. However, he says he no longer cares for alcohol.
“I have bigger and better things going on. And I’m glad that I went to rehab and got checked out just because it helped me out.”
Lochte was able to return to competitive swimming on Wednesday at the Phillips 66 National Championships. During his time trial, he swam the 200 IM in 1:57.88, just 3.88 seconds slower than his world record time. This qualified him for the U.S. trials to make the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
The world-renowned swimmer has already been to the Olympics four times and won 12 medals, making him the second-most decorated swimmer in Olympic history behind Michael Phelps. He holds multiple world records at age 34.
Lochte credits his wife and kids for bringing joy back into his career.
“I’m having fun swimming again,’’ he said. “And I haven’t had fun since the 2012 Olympics. So it’s been a long time where I can honestly say I’m stepping out on that pool deck with a big smile on my face, and I owe it all to my kids and my wife. They’ve been my backbone throughout this whole journey these past three years ago.”