New York, United States, Aug 5 – Ryan Lochte, the world and Olympic champion swimmer whose false story about being robbed at the Rio Olympics brought a 10-month ban, returned to the pool Saturday at the US Open meet.
Two days after his 33rd birthday, Lochte finished fifth in the men’s 100m backstroke, clocking 55.16sec in a final won by two-time Olympic medalist Arkady Vyatchanin of Serbia in 53.91.
“It’s a good starting point,” said Lochte, who will race in the 200m individual medley on Sunday in the meet at Nassau County Aquatics Center in suburban New York.
“That’s what I wanted to do coming into this meet. Doing that little of training, and being able to go that time … I’ve still got something there.”
Lochte, who intends his comeback to propel him into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, told USA Swimming that he is ready to battle back after a humiliating finish to his Brazil experience last year.
“Whatever happens, I’m going to take it with a grain of salt and keep moving forward,” Lochte said in a video posted on the governing body website.
“One of the biggest things I’ve learned throughout the past year is I’m a fighter. I will always get back up. And I’m back.”
Lochte made headlines around the world — and deeply embarrassed organizers — when he claimed that he and three other US swimmers were robbed after a night of revelry during the Rio Games last year.
Brazilian police later determined, in part based on surveillance video, that Lochte had largely fabricated the story.
He was charged with making a false crime report, but a Rio appeals court threw that case out in July.
After the ban, Lochte competed on Dancing With the Stars and became a father, with son Caiden being born two months ago.
“I want to show him if you keep working at something, you can achieve anything,” Lochte said. “That’s why I got back into the pool. Every stroke I take, it’s for him.
“I want to show my son what his dad does and what he’s passionate about and show him to never give up. I do have goals. I still want to accomplish much more in the sport of swimming.”
Lochte said he is a changed man from the one whose embarrassing tale led to false robbery claim charges a year ago.
“Before it was just me and my swimming and what do I want to accomplish in the sport. But now I have a whole new purpose, whole new drive in the water. I’m so excited to be back in training,” Lochte said.
“I’ve never had this spark. I’ve never had this kind of flame inside me. How well I want to do in 2020 — I’ve never felt this way. My whole outlook on life has changed.”