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Olympian Ryan Lochte talks about giving back, mental health, and helping the youth

Olympian Ryan Lochte chatted about his latest endeavors for 2024, which include making a difference in the lives of the youth with the “Legendary” Swim Academy.

Ryan Lochte in 'The Traitors'
Ryan Lochte in 'The Traitors.' Photo Courtesy of Peacock
Ryan Lochte in 'The Traitors.' Photo Courtesy of Peacock

Olympian Ryan Lochte chatted about his latest endeavors for 2024, which include making a difference in the lives of the youth with the “Legendary” Swim Academy.

He discussed the importance of mental health in sports, especially in this digital age that we are living in.

Lochte is a 12-time Olympic medalist (six gold, three silver and three bronze), as well as a four-time Olympian (Athens, Beijing, London and Rio de Janeiro). With his 12 Olympic medals, Lochte is the second-most decorated male swimmer of all time behind Michael Phelps.

Walt Disney once said: “I have been up against tough competition all my life. I wouldn’t know how to get along without it.” The late cartoon animator also said: “If you can dream it, you can do it.” Both of these quotes apply to Ryan Lochte.

Ryan Lochte: The world record holder

Lochte still holds three world records in swimming, two of which are in the 200 IM (short course and long course), as well as in the 4 x 200 meter freestyle relay race long course, which was set at the 2009 World Championships.

As of December 16, 2023, Lochte is tied for the “Most World Records” set in Men’s Events in Short Course Meters swimming with 10, along with such athletes as Mark Foster and Jani Sievinen.

“It is still surprising to me that I still have an individual world record, especially since I set that back in July of 2011,” he said. “Looking back, that is awesome. Now, I can tie it in with my clinics and teaching kids my mentality, my hunger, and my ambition. At the time, Michael Phelps and I separated ourselves from the rest of the world, and it shows.”

“In the future, I won’t be upset if my world records get broken. That’s why we have world records… they are meant to be broken,” he acknowledged.

“Everything I am doing now at this stage of my life is in the lines of giving back, and helping others,” he said. “These days, I am learning so much, and I love it. I want to teach the kids my secrets that I did to transform myself into a world-class athlete. I just love giving back.”

Ryan Lochte
Ryan Lochte of the United States celebrates with his gold medal during the Victory Ceremony for the men’s 400m Individual Medley on Day 1 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre – Digital Journal Staff

‘Legendary’ Academy

On January 20, he will host his Legendary Swim Academy Clinic at Lifetime in Garden City, New York. “I am so excited to be doing it at Lifetime. I love my fans and hanging out with the kids and being around kids. I am stoked to get back on it. I will definitely bring an Olympic medal of mine that the kids can see and experience in person. I want to give the kids as much inspiration as possible.”

“In this clinic, I am not only talking about swimming. I am discussing nutrition and life,” he said. “Each kid will get one-on-one time with me. We usually divide it into two groups, one that is ages 11 to 12 and under in the morning, and then another one ages 11 to 12 and up. I want them to have fun. We will have a DJ and I would love to have a slushie machine for afterward. It is going to be an experience, for sure,” he explained.

“I am just excited about this New Year and everything I have going on. This is just the start of the Legendary Academy, and I am just spicing things up,” he added.

Olympic gold medalist swimmer Ryan Lochte
Olympic gold medalist swimmer Ryan Lochte. Photo Courtesy of TYR Sport

‘Battle of the G.O.A.T.S’

The Florida Gator opened up about being a part of “Battle of the G.O.A.T.S” at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles.

“Man, I am a fish out of the water,” he said with a sweet laugh. “I had so much fun. I am an athlete: I played soccer, lacrosse, baseball, basketball, surfing, and skateboarding growing up, so it wasn’t bad. Some of those retired NFL players have still got it, and they are fast. It was so cool, especially just getting me out of my comfort zone, and everything.”

‘The Jennifer Hudson Show’

Lochte discussed being featured on “The Jennifer Hudson Show,” where he was interviewed, and he taught Hudson how to swim.

“I am so proud of Jennifer,” he said. “Initially, she didn’t know how to swim and was terrified of the water, and I was so happy to change that for her. Now, we message every once in a while, and she can go in the water with her kids, and she is not afraid. That is simply amazing.”

“That is important, especially since drowning is the second leading cause of deaths in the world, and it’s preventable,” he said. “So many people are terrified of swimming, but I want people to have the love and passion that I have for the sport.”

“Also, I had the good fortune to teach John Legend how to swim, it was in a smaller pool, but he picked it up really fast too. I loved it, it was awesome,” he added.

Future goals

On his future goals, Lochte shared that he would love to become a commentator at the 2024 Summer Olympic Games in Paris. “Also, it would be cool if I could commentate with Michael Phelps because we had the greatest rivalry. It would be really cool if the network could have both of us,” he said.

“It would be special for me because I could go to the Olympics with my family, and enjoy it with them, as well as watch the opening and closing ceremonies. Also, I can get to watch other Olympic sports there in Paris because I never had that chance before,” he added.

Lochte hopes to make the sport of swimming bigger than it is with the things that he is doing. He hopes “to create an empire and a legacy that he can pass on to his kids.” “Right now, my life is my wife, my kids, and my family,” he said.

“I want to create something that helps everyone, and something that will help my family as well,” he said.

Ryan Lochte in 'The Traitors'
Ryan Lochte in ‘The Traitors.’ Photo Courtesy of Peacock

‘The Traitors’ on Peacock

On being a part of the show “The Traitors” on Peacock, Lochte said, “I’ve been on a bunch of other TV shows such as ‘Celebrity Big Brother,’ but I had the most fun on ‘The Traitors.’ I wasn’t really playing a game, I was there just to do the missions, and all that. I just had a blast.”

“The whole crew and everyone was just awesome,” he exclaimed. “When I got ‘killed’ in the middle of the night, I had to do my exit interview, and everyone was upset because they didn’t want me to leave. That just warmed my heart,” he elaborated.

Importance of skincare and skin protection

Lochte also spoke about the importance of skincare, skin protection, and sunscreen.

“Growing up in Florida, and being outside all the time, and even my father having skin cancer, skin protection and sunscreen is of utmost importance. We created my own sunscreen ‘Blochte,’ and the name is just perfect. You can’t beat that,” he said with a sweet laugh.

“I want to help so many people, and I didn’t want any carcinogenic ingredients in there. Everything needs to be organic. We will come out with three different versions, and that should be out this summer,” he added.

The significance of mental health

While Lochte does have a passion for swimming, he didn’t let the sport define him. “I just did swimming because I loved the sport and because I was good at it. That’s what I want to teach everyone, especially lately at a time when mental health is at the forefront.”

“I went through depression and mental health struggles,” Lochte acknowledged. “So, I realized that, and I seeing so many younger Olympians going through that such as Caeleb Dressel, who is a really good friend and like a son to me and calls me ‘Big Daddy.’ The youth these days feels that sports is their life, and I want to teach them the importance of having balance.”

“I want to teach kids that swimming is just a sport, and it is not their life. There is so much more to life, and they have to live it. That is the message and point that I want to get across to these kids through my Legendary Academy,” he added.

Visiting Athens, Greece with Michael Andrew last winter

From December 2 to 4, 2022, Lochte visited Greece with fellow Olympic gold medalist Michael Andrew, and they hosted a swimming clinic in Athens at the OAKA Indoor Swimming Pool.

“That was fun,” he admitted. “When I first got there, it was really emotional because Athens was the first Olympics where I ever earned two medals for Team USA. I went to the exact same pool where I made my dreams come true.”

“I just remembered looking behind the block that we won the gold medal in the 4 x 200 meter relay, and I was just overcome with memories. I remembered what Michael Phelps had told us back then before me and the other relay swimmers got on those blocks, and it really hit me. That was so awesome,” he recalled.

“Then, I realized, ‘man, that was a long time ago, I’m old now’,” he said with a sweet laugh. “So, Athens, Greece, was where my Olympic career started, and everything took off from that point.”

“Doing the swim clinic there nearly two decades later was awesome too, and the language barrier didn’t bother me at all. It was basically me just having fun with kids. Michael Andrew and I had a great time together,” Lochte said.

“I really got to know Michael and his father, Peter, who was there too. Michael’s whole family is so nice and sweet. I hope we get to do more international swim clinics together,” he added.

Third child: baby Georgia

This past June, Lochte welcomed his third child, a girl named Georgia, with his wife Kayla. “Georgia is seriously an angel,” he said. “She giggles and is the happiest baby. She sleeps through the night. Georgia is such a good girl; I couldn’t be happier.”

“Also, it is so cool that all of my kids’ birthdays are in June, so you can’t miss them,” he added.

“I just want to keep having kids,” he said. “This is what I was put on this Earth to do: to be a father. Every day is just a miracle; it’s awesome.”

Coach Jon Urbanchek

Lochte also praised veteran Olympic coach Jon “Urb” Urbanchek for being a true legend and mentor in the sport, and one who is well-respected by all.

“Jon’s workouts may have drained my tank back in the day, but he is awesome. His coaching methods were old-school but incredible. It was a different kind of mindset and different kind of people that trained back then.”

The best advice that he has ever been given

On the best advice that he has ever been given, Lochte shared, “In life, you will get knocked down and you will hit bumps in the road. It’s not how you get knocked down, it’s how you get up and keep moving. It’s how you make yourself better. That’s the biggest thing I’ve learned, especially for me.

“I’ve been on top of the world, and I’ve been knocked down to the bottom. I got through it, and got myself up and kept moving forward. I’ve been trying to make myself better and at the same time, I am trying to make the world better by putting smiles on people’s faces. That’s what has been missing lately. We all need to help each other out,” he added.

Ryan Lochte
Olympian Ryan Lochte. Photo Courtesy of ‘The Jennifer Hudson Show.’

Favorite mottos to live by

Regarding his favorite mottos to live by, Lochte revealed, “Go big or go home.” “Also, if you’re going to be a man at night, you need to be a man in the morning… Those are the famous words from Coach Anthony Nesty,” he said.

Stage of his life

On the title of the current chapter of his life, Lochte said, “The sky’s the limit.” “I am trying to transition my hunger that I had for swimming to this whole new world of entrepreneurship and having that hunger mindset. I don’t want to have limitations on what I can do, what I can build, and what I can create,” he explained.

Success

Regarding his definition of the word success, Lochte said, “Success means being a good person. Also, being able to provide for my family, being there to love them, and just being a part of their lives.”

Message for his fans

For his fans and supporters, Lochte expressed, “I love you guys. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for always sticking with me. I have an oldie but goodie saying for them… ‘Jeah’!”

To learn more about Ryan Lochte, check out his official homepage, and follow him on Instagram and Facebook.

Markos Papadatos
Written By

Markos Papadatos is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for Music News. Papadatos is a Greek-American journalist and educator that has authored over 21,000 original articles over the past 18 years. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, lifestyle, magic, and sports. He is a 16-time "Best of Long Island" winner, where for three consecutive years (2020, 2021, and 2022), he was honored as the "Best Long Island Personality" in Arts & Entertainment, an honor that has gone to Billy Joel six times.

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