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How Rio Scandal Humbled Legendary American Swimmer Ryan Lochte

Ryan Lochte
Ryan Lochte. Photo/Getty Images

A story is told of legendary American swimmer Ryan Lochte and his great skill in the pool for more than a decade. And his fame is also tied to a scandal in Rio 2016 Olympics that cost him his life’s career.

Lochte’s prowess comes second after celebrated swimmer Michael Phelps – also an American Olympian. Lochte has a special place in athletes’ history but it is his life decades after the success that is dumbfounding.

Much of him is not seen in the swimming front – not much is his fault but, fate caught up with him. But he has his father to thank for nurturing his passion for swimming even with all the drama in his life.

How Ryan Lochte Started His Swimming Career

The 37-year-old always loved New York where he was born to parents of mixed descent. His father Steven R. Lochte had Dutch, English and German roots. His mother was Cuban brought up in Havana but love took her to New York.

Lochte bothered less about swimming while young but his passion for the sport spiked when he was 12. His family moved to Florida where his father took up a coaching job in swimming.

The legendary American swimmer that is Lochte was then in Junior High School. At 14, he lost a junior championship swimming competition and he vowed to avenge by training harder.

By the time he joined the University of Florida to major in Sports Management, swimming was in his system. He competed for the varsity between 2004 and 2007 – before graduating and going pro.

He is a seven-time National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) champion coupled with other national titles. The father of two bagged all these titles in the four years he spent at the University of Florida. The 12-time Olympic medalist was ready for an international career as an athlete.

Ryan Lochte Olympic Medals

Ryan Lochte

Ryan Lochte displays his medal. Photo/Vox

The glorious American swimmer has 12 Olympic medals to show for his life’s career. He bagged his first gold medals during the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens at the sheer age of 20.

Between 2004 and 2016, Lochte built a heavy reputation as one of America’s finest swimmers. He earned millions along the way and cemented his history with 12 Olympic medals.

It is then that he broke the 200 m record and also became the world record holder in 4 by 200 m freestyle and 4×100-meter freestyle (mixed) relay. However, a dramatic and unprecedented twist hit his decorated swimming career when he least expected it.

What Happened To Ryan Lochte?

When you mention the year 2016 to the revered American swimmer, it evokes bitterness and a trail of regret. They say that fate is like a strange, unpopular restaurant filled with odd little waiters. They bring you things you never asked for and don’t always like but you can’t do much about it.

Lochte understands better than many people in the world about fate. A scandal about him allegedly filing a false report with the police elbowed him out of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. And this was the end of Lochte’s lustrous swimming career.

According to USA Today, Lochte filed a claim with the police that he was robbed at gunpoint in Rio. He alleged that he was at a gas station in Brazil’s capital when the incident happened.

As a result, he was handed a 10-month ban over the incident which a Brazilian court later dismissed for lack of enough evidence. In a twinkle of an eye, major sponsors pulled out and he lost millions of dollars in sponsorship deals.

And when he thought that he had had enough, he tested positive for doping warranting another suspension. The U.S Anti-Doping Agency found out that he was injected with Vitamin B-12 infusion. It was the final nail in the coffin as he lost all of his sponsors and his income drained from over $1 million to $75,000. He did not know how to survive on such an amount and painful adjustments in his life began.

Ryan Lochte

Ryan Lochte. Photo/Getty Images

What Would Ryan Lochte Do Differently In Life?

When he appeared on CNBC’s ‘Back In The Game episode in 2019i, Lochte said there is a lot he would do differently. Saving whatever he earned would be a priority because he blundered despite earning millions.

He recalls that after the Rio saga, money stopped coming as it used to but he still spend generously like before. By the time he realized how bad he was in managing his life and finances, he had about $20,000 left in his bank account.

His lesson after asking himself hard questions is: “Any paycheck that you get, whether it’s $5 or $50,000, you have to put some away, no matter what.”

His biggest lesson is learning how to budget and spend on necessities only.

“You have to budget your expenses. That’s something that I never did when I was younger — all this money was flowing through, I didn’t have a family at the time and I was living carefree and buying all this random stuff. And it caught up to me.”

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