Ryan Lochte Worries He'll Become a "Failure" If He Doesn't Make It to the 2020 Olympics

Having last competed at the 2016 Summer Olympics—his performance overshadowed by his robbery scandal—Ryan Lochte is training for another chance...and to change people's minds about him.

By Samantha Schnurr May 04, 2021 9:42 PMTags

If there's one thing Ryan Lochte understands, it's pressure.

And he's certainly feeling it with the Olympic Trials for swimming nearing closer and closer. At 36, Lochte could become, according to Sports Illustrated, the oldest-ever men's Olympic swimmer for the United States—that is, if he makes the team.

Of course, he's no stranger to the summer games, having competed and medaled in 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016. Though he's a multi-gold medalist—the second-most decorated male swimmer in Olympic history—Lochte is known just as well for his personal messes as he is his Olympic triumphs, most notably the Rio robbery scandal that overshadowed any of his success at the last Summer Olympics.

"Ive been knocked down millions of times and I kept fighting. Every time that I've gotten knocked down," he acknowledged to Sports Illustrated, "it was my own doing and it's up to me to get out of it."

Now, with a chance to compete again and potentially shroud his problematic past with Olympic glory, Lochte is feeling the weight of this moment. "It's not so much that I'm proving anything. It's more that I'm making non-believers believers," he explained to the website. "There's a lot of doubt, a lot of people that have doubt. I want to change people's mind, all the misconceptions that they have about me."

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The significance of this opportunity is also hitting Lochte, now a father of two, closer to home. "Everyone around me is putting a lot of pressure on me—more than I've ever had in my entire life," the swimmer said. "I feel it from everyone. Like my family. The people that live in this house. My agent. It's just everyone."

"I feel like, if I don't [make it]," he added, "I'll become a failure."

Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

While his training schedule is evidence this athlete is fully committed to his next shot at the Olympic Games, it seems—at least at the time of his interview—that his heart hadn't yet caught up to his head.

"All this pressure that's coming on and that I'm carrying on my back is like, well, I have to succeed. I have to do this. I have to, I have to, I have to instead of I want to," he explained, "and that is the part—especially in the next three months—is that's gonna be really vital for me."