As Ryan Lochte tries to make the U.S. Olympic swimming team at age 36, the 12-time Olympic medalist says he'll feel like "a failure" if he does not reach Tokyo.
“Everyone around me is putting a lot of pressure on me—more than I’ve ever had in my entire life,” Lochte told Brian Burnsed of Sports Illustrated. “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], I’ll become a failure.”
Lochte is the second-most decorated men's swimmer in Olympics history, trailing only longtime teammate Michael Phelps. But while Phelps has been renowned as one of the greatest athletes in sports history, Lochte has often been written off.
Lochte sees his journey as something of a battle of redemption. He spent most of his swimming prime seemingly as a walking meme, embracing his bro-like tendencies to capture the sport's attention—for better and for worse.
At the 2016 Olympics, Lochte falsely claimed he and teammates were robbed at gun point in Rio De Janeiro. The incident led to a 10-month suspension by USA Swimming and the loss of most of Lochte's major sponsors. He was suspended again in 2018 by the United States Anti-Doping Agency for receiving an illegal injection, costing him 14 months of competitive action.
The fall from grace cost him the vast majority of his fortune, and he also entered a rehabilitation clinic in 2018 for alcohol addiction. Now a father of two young children, Lochte says he is determined to write a better final chapter to his swimming career.