Ryan Lochte Gets Emotional as He Fails to Qualify for Tokyo Olympics

Swimmer Ryan Lochte will not compete at the upcoming Tokyo Summer Olympics after failing to qualify at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials on Friday. Find out what he said about the future of his career.

By Corinne Heller Jun 19, 2021 6:22 PMTags
Watch: Ryan Lochte Fails to Qualify for Upcoming Tokyo Olympics

Ryan Lochte's Olympic career is likely over, as he has failed to qualify for the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The 36-year-old swimming champion, known for both winning 12 medals at four prior Olympics and for his controversial behavior outside of the pool, placed seventh in the 200-meter individual medley at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials in Omaha, Nebraska on Friday, June 18. To be eligible to compete in the summer games, which begin in July, he would have needed to come in first or second.

Ryan got emotional as he answered questions about his performance in the race at a press conference later on Friday.

"Swimming has taken me so far," he said, "Coming out of the water, just what's swimming's done for me and my family is unbelievable. To me, the world's greatest sport. Very emotional. I was kind of taking it all in. I really wanted to be on the Olympic team. I think this is probably my most important swim meet that I've ever had in my entire career, the one that meant the most to me. So falling short and feeling like I let everyone down was one of the hardest things."

2021 Summer Olympics Status Check

Ryan continued, "But I had my family there, my kids, they got to watch their daddy swim, so I guess, you know, that means everything to me."

At the race, Ryan was joined by his wife Kayla Rae Lochte, 29, and their kids, son Camden Zane Lochte, 4, and daughter Liv Rae Lochte, 2.

Ryan also talked about the future of his swimming career. "This is not the last you're going to see of me," he said. "Whether it's me swimming in the pool or me going across the world, teaching kids how to swim and getting everyone involved in the sport. I want to change the sport. I want to make it bigger. So you won't see the last of me and I don't know if this will be my last race. I don't think so. Actually, I can say it won't be. There's still things I want to do but I guess the pressure's off and now it's just going to be fun."

He continued, "I'll quit swimming when I stop having fun...I still want to race, but as far as another Olympic trials, I don't know about that. I'll be 40. That's pushing it. But we'll see. I mean, anything can happen. I can take years off and come back and be stronger than ever, who knows. But right now I'm just going to take this all in and go see my family. My entire family."

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Ryan's wife shared a video of the swimmer's press conference on her Instagram page, writing, "Filled with so many emotions - but I don't have the words yet.. I just want to say how proud of you I am @ryanlochte I love you and you will forever be a legend. Lots of tears and laughs to come...We felt the love and support last night so much so I also want to say thank you again for everyone's messages. They were so heartfelt and uplifting."

If Ryan had come in first or second place in the same race, where he holds the world record, and qualified for the Olympics again, he would have become the oldest U.S. Olympic male swimmer in history. He also would have completed a full career comeback following four years of scandal.

Biggest Olympic Scandals

In 2016, after he competed in the Summer Olympics in Rio, the United States Olympic Committee and USA Swimming suspended Ryan from taking part in domestic and international competitions for 10 months after he said he "over-exaggerated " a story about being robbed at gunpoint in the Brazilian city along with some swimming team mates.

"It's been a long suspension but it's over, I've learned and became a better man from it. Now let's go #2020 #teamtyr #2020isforyoucaiden #justletmework," Ryan wrote on Instagram in July 2017 after he was free to compete again, giving a shout-out to his and Kayla's then 1-month-old son.

In July 2018, a year after his suspension over the Rio incident was lifted, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) suspended Lochte for 14 months for his use of a prohibited intravenous infusion at an infusion clinic after he posted a photo of himself getting the IV on social media. The group explained in a statement that while the substance that was infused was permitted, athletes were not allowed to get IVs outside of a hospital unless given special permission.

ESPN reported that Lochte later said at a press conference he has "never taken a prohibitive substance" and "never attempted to gain any advantage by putting anything illegal" in his body.

In his press conference on Friday, Ryan said he competes not just for himself but because he "wants to make everyone happy." He also reflected on how different his life became once he got married and had kids.

"I just want to do it for everyone and prove to everyone that I have changed," he explained. "I'm a different person. My life has definitely changed. Swimming is, I guess, my second job now. Once my son was born and I became a father and a husband...that's my number one thing, and swimming is just the cherry on top. But in the midst of everything, I just felt like I kind of let everyone down just because I mean, I care about everyone."

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