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Interview: Olympic champion Ryan Lochte is giving back in the sport of swimming

Olympic and world swimming champion Ryan Lochte chatted about his latest endeavors, which include auctioning off six of his Olympic medals for charity.

Ryan Lochte
Ryan Lochte. Photo Courtesy of TYR Sport
Ryan Lochte. Photo Courtesy of TYR Sport

Olympic and world swimming champion Ryan Lochte chatted about his latest endeavors, which include auctioning off six of his Olympic medals for charity.

Sir Winston Churchill once said: “‘Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Ryan Lochte is such an athlete and individual.

Background on Ryan Lochte

Lochte is a world-renowned American competitive swimmer and a 12-time Olympic medalist. Lochte’s 12 Olympic medals make him the second-most decorated Olympian in swimming in a tie with Natalie Coughlin, Dara Torres, and Jenny Thompson.

He currently holds the world records in the 200 meter individual medley (both long course and short course) with a time of 1:54.00 and 1:49.63 respectively. As part of the American swimming team, he also holds the world record in the men’s 4 × 200 meter freestyle relay.

His long course and short course 200 IM world records are nearly 11 and 10 years old respectively. “It is still going strong,” he said with a sweet laugh.

Lochte is a four-time Olympian (making the U.S. Olympic teams in 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016), and he has earned 90 medals in international swimming competitions, 54 of which are gold, 22 are silver, and 14 are bronze.

Flowers Sea Swim at Grand Cayman

On June 11, Lochte competed in the Flowers Sea Swim in Grand Cayman Islands. “Oh my gosh, I can swim miles and miles in a swimming pool but open water is a different beast,” he said. “It was all good, it is benefitting helping kids.”

Auctioning off six of his Olympic medals

Six of Lochte’s Olympic medals (three silver and three bronze) are up for auction until July 21. The proceeds will go to the Jorge Nation Foundation, which is a nonprofit organization that raises money to send children with a terminal illness and their families on a dream trip from South Florida to a destination of their choice.

“This is another thing I wanted to do,” he admitted. “I love those medals, I worked hard for them but they are sitting in my closet collecting dust. I wanted to put them to good use. Thanks to all of my hard work, I can finally give back.”

“The Jorge Nation Foundation is almost like the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and I am auctioning the medals off. All of the proceeds go directly to the Jorge Nation Foundation to help kids,” he said.

“I am helping people and putting smiles on people’s faces,” he added. “With everything that is going on in the world, we need smiles. I am so happy that I am doing this because nothing means more to me than lighting up a kid’s face.”

“In every swim meet I go to, I always sign autographs and take photos with everyone. If I win a medal at World Championships, I will give it to a kid, and I always do that. That one moment, when they smile, always beats a gold medal. I would do it again and again,” he said.

“It’s not about me anymore, it’s about helping the younger generation,” he added.

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

2022 Global Swim Series

The 2022 Global Swim Series has set up “Race The Legends” so that swimmers from around the world can swim with legends of the past and present. This year’s Global Swim Series will take place from August 28 to September 3 just in time for Labor Day Weekend. “I am very excited,” he admitted. “This event will be one of a kind. It has never been done before, and it will have that many legends, which will be amazing.”

“I am going to make it fun, that’s what life is all about: having fun,” he acknowledged. “I am bringing my dad with me, he is going to be the coach because he knows how to coach. It is just going to be fun.”

TYR Sport

Lochte thoroughly enjoys his long-time partnership with TYR Sport. “TYR is amazing, they have definitely treated me like family since 2017,” he said. “I would represent TYR forever. Even if I am not sponsored by them, I would still represent them. I love what they are doing with the company. They are also doing a big push in CrossFit so that is what I am getting myself into. The whole company’s vision is just unbelievable.”

“TYR is pushing the limits, it has no boundaries, and that’s what I love,” he added. “I want to be a part of that journey as much as I can.”

SPIRE Institute

He is honored to be a Swim Ambassador for the SPIRE Institute. “The SPIRE Institute is every athlete’s dream,” he said. “The facility is simply amazing. If we had that when I was growing up in high school, I would be a ten-times better athlete than I am today. It’s not just sports, they also do academics so you get your education and you learn about nutrition, working out, and time management. They have everything there.”

“SPIRE is another place that is helping kids, and it is helping kids reach their dreams,” he added.

Mac Crutchfield Swim Clinic & Dinner charity event

The 14th Annual Mac Crutchfield Swim Clinic & Dinner with Olympians will take place on August 13, and it benefits the charitable Mac Crutchfield Foundation. “I am looking forward to this event as well,” he said. “Everything I am doing lately is about helping someone else.”

“I am so thankful where swimming has gotten me,” he said. “It has gotten me to a position where I can give back, and I can be a role model to these little kids. The Mac Crutchfield Foundation is my family, I don’t even think of them as a charity. The Crutchfields are family to me and I just want to help them out. Drowning prevention is very important to me, and now that I have kids of my own, I take it even more seriously.”

To learn more about the nonprofit organization, the Mac Crutchfield Foundation, visit its official homepage.

The greatest lesson that swimming has taught him

Regarding the greatest lesson that the sport of swimming has taught him, he remarked, “Perseverance.” “Personally, I have been to the very top, and I’ve been to the very bottom, in the blink of an eye. Swimming was the thing that helped me push forward along with my family,” he said.

“Swimming taught me to persevere, to keep moving forward, and to keep fighting. It’s all about making the next day and the next practice better,” he said.

“I took that to heart and in my real life, it inspired me to be a better husband, father, and person. This is what swimming has taught me,” he added.

Personal life

In his personal life, he is married to Kayla Rae Reid, and he is a father to their two kids: his son, Caiden Zane, and his daughter, Liv Rae, both of which have an affinity for aquatics. “My three-year-old Liv is learning how to swim, and my five-year-old Caiden can swim, he is talented in his own right. I have a little swimmer on my hands, he knows how to do a perfect backstroke. My kids both love the water,” he said.

“Every day, it’s a miracle, when I wake up and see my kids, I am just the happiest person,” he said. “I’ve always wanted a family and now I have it. I love them so much.”

On the title of the current chapter of his life, Lochte said, “Helping People.” “What I am doing right now is helping a lot of people. I’m helping kids out and I am giving back.”

He shared some of his favorite mottos to live by: “go big or go home.” “That has been my motto ever since I was a little kid,” he said. “In anything you do in life, you have to go all in otherwise later on in life you will be asking yourself ‘what if?’ So go big or go home.”

He shared that lately, he is doing things differently. “I am not so much going for sponsors, I am going for creating, so stay tuned for that,” he foreshadowed.

Lochte had great words about actor and entertainer Jonathan Bennett. “Jonathan is a good dude. He cracks me up, he is awesome,” Lochte said.

Success

On his definition of the word success, Lochte explained, “Success used to mean winning gold medals. Now, it means making a future for my family.”

Rapid Fire Questions with Ryan Lochte

Lochte also took some time to answer a few “Rapid Fire” questions.

Waffles or pancakes? Waffles
Flying or driving? Flying
City living or country living? Both, I like both
Summer or winter? Summer
Library or museum? Museum
Bath or shower? Shower
Pepsi or Coke? Coke
Texting or calling? Texting
Half-full or half-empty? Half-full
Curly fries or normal fries? Curly fries
Skydiving or scuba diving? Skydiving
Indoor pool or outdoor pool? Indoor pool
Tea or coffee? Coffee
Rain or snow? Rain
Singing or dancing? Dancing
Burgers or tacos? Burgers
Long course or short course? Short course
Money or fame? Money

For more information on Olympic and world champion swimmer Ryan Lochte, check out his official website and follow him on Instagram and Twitter.

Olympic gold medalist swimmer Ryan Lochte
Olympic gold medalist swimmer Ryan Lochte. Photo Courtesy of TYR Sport
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 18,000 original articles over the past 16 years. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, lifestyle, magic, and sports. He is a six-time consecutive "Best of Long Island" winner, and in the past three years, 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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