When WAG last left Ryan Lochte, whose strenuous dryland workout we followed – OK, attempted to follow – leading up to the 2012 Olympics, he was swimming across the Pond to London, as per one of his many commercials. But there, things went, well, not-so-swimmingly. Though he won five medals – two gold, two silver and one bronze, including a gold in the killer 400-meter individual medley that crowns the best all-over swimmer – there was a sense that these should’ve been five gold medals, that somehow he had let the country down.
It didn’t help that he appeared to cost the U.S. a gold in the 4x100m freestyle relay, losing out to the French, whom the U.S. had beaten dramatically in the same event in Beijing. (Talk about your karma.) And it didn’t help that as Lochte’s medal color diminished, Michael Phelps became the most decorated Olympian to date.
What happened? Had Lochte peaked at the 2011 World Aquatics Championships in Shanghai, where he was so brilliant, outshining a listless Phelps? Had the 400 IM, contested on the first night of swimming in London, taken too much out of him? Had he become the victim of overexposure and over-management? All of the above?
Some of Lochte’s post-Olympics actions and comments seemed to confirm what his detractors were all too eager to blare in the blogosphere – that he was a greedy, empty-headed, full-of-himself party boy. A reality show pompously called “What Would Ryan Lochte Do”? Doesn’t it beg the question, “Who cares?” Still, it got him a Teen Choice Award nomination as best actor. It also led some to label him with a couple of “d” words, only one of which is “dumb.”
But really, people, why all the hate for someone who is clearly devoted to his mother and raising money for muscular dystrophy, signs every child’s autograph after a meet and gives most of his medals away? (Case in point: Lochte – who has familial ties here and has appeared periodically at the Boys & Girls Club of Northern Westchester in Mount Kisco – recently donated a swimming clinic to the silent auction at Chazz and Gianna Palminteri’s White Plains benefit for their Child Reach Foundation.)
The good news for us Lochte and sports fans is that he’s back in the pool. At the recent Santa Clara Grand Prix, Lochte won the 400 IM, the 200 back, the 100 fly and the 200 IM. At the 2013 Phillips 66 National Championship & World Championship Trials in Indianapolis recently, he pulled off one of the toughest doubles there is, winning the 200m free and later the 200m back. He’s qualified for seven events at the World Aquatics Championships in Barcelona, now under way.
After Barcelona, he’s going on a swimabout, packing up his passport and Speedos to swim with various trainers around the world, with the blessing of Gregg Troy, Lochte’s longtime coach, who also coaches the U.S. team. It’s all in preparation for the Olympics in 2016 in Rio de Janiero, where Lochte predicts Phelps will return.
Sounds like a plan to add to his haul of 11 Olympic medals alone. How many medals do Lochte’s detractors have? Oh, yeah, right.