Ryan Lochte: American returns to competitive swimming after bans and rehab

Lochte hopes to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics
Lochte hopes to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

American swimmer Ryan Lochte says he is "not the same person" as three years ago after swimming competitively for the first time in over a year.

Lochte, a 12-time Olympic medallist, was banned for 10 months in 2016 after falsely claiming he was robbed at gunpoint during the Rio Olympic Games.

He was then banned for 14 months in 2018 for using an intravenous infusion.

After racing at the US National Championships, Lochte, 34, said: "One of my big goals is the 2020 Olympics."

'A better man since rehab'

Lochte said he had suicidal thoughts in the aftermath of the controversy in Rio.

He spent six weeks in rehab for alcohol abuse in 2018 and says he came out of the process "a better man".

"I checked myself into rehab," he said. "I did the classes, I got out, I did everything.

"I'm glad I went to rehab and got checked out as it helped me put things in perspective in my life on what is really more important.

"And I'm definitely not the same person I was three years ago. I'm a different person. I'm just trying to be a different person. I'm having fun again and haven't had fun since the 2012 Olympics."

Lochte booked his place at the US Olympic trials after clocking one minute 57.88 seconds in the 200m medley at the National Trials on Wednesday.

The mark was nearly four seconds down on his world record but Lochte - who has six Olympic gold medals - said swimming is currently his "second priority" as his young children Caiden and Liv occupy his focus.

"Right now I'm not trying to prove anything to anyone," he said. "I'm doing this for me and my family. One of my biggest goals is a fifth Olympics and hopefully getting on the podium there. I want to teach my children that if you have a dream and goal, work on it on a daily basis, you can accomplish anything.

"It's been a long three years but it's good to be back."

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