Ryan Lochte Biography

Swimmer, Athlete (1984–)
Ryan Lochte is an American swimmer who has won 12 Olympic medals, including six gold, three silver and three bronze. He is the second most decorated male swimmer in Olympic history.

Who Is Ryan Lochte?

Born in Rochester, New York, on August 3, 1984, Ryan Lochte started swimming at age five. Soon after, his family moved to Florida so that his father could coach swimming, and Lochte began taking classes under his father and competing in Junior Olympics tournaments. He has since won 12 Olympic medals, including six golds; seven NCAA championships; and 51 major international medals. At the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, Lochte won gold medals in the 400-meter individual medley and 4x200 meter freestyle team event; and two silver medals in the 4x100 meter freestyle relay team event and 200-meter individual medley. In 2016, Lochte helped the U.S. team win gold in the men's 4x200 freestyle relay.

Early Years and College Success

Ryan Steven Lochte was born on August 3, 1984, in Rochester, New York, to parents Steven and Ileane "Ike" Lochte. Growing up with a father and mother who were both swim coaches, Lochte learned to swim at an early age. At the age of five, his family moved to Gainseville, Florida, where his father took a coaching job. Although swimming was a family sport, Lochte preferred basketball and skateboarding. He did not take swimming seriously until high school, when he placed second at the Junior Olympics.

Lochte then attended the University of Florida, where he was named NCAA Swimmer of the Year twice. He also became a seven-time NCAA champion, a seven-time SEC champion and a 24-time All-American. As a senior, at the 2006 NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving Championships, Lochte broke the NCAA record in the 400-yard individual medley, which had been set by Tom Dolan nearly a decade earlier.

Athens OIympics and World Championships

Lochte first qualified for the Olympics in 2004, held in Athens, Greece. That year, he swam with Michael Phelps, Klete Keller and Peter Vanderkaay to capture the gold medal in the 4-by-200–meter freestyle relay. He also won the silver—placing just behind Phelps—in the 200-meter individual medley. Later that year, at the FINA Short Course World Championships, Lochte won the bronze in the 200-meter freestyle, the silver in the 200-meter individual medley and the gold in the 4-by-200–meter freestyle relay.

At the 2005 World Aquatics Championships, Lochte won the bronze medal in both the 200-meter backstroke and 200-meter individual medley, as well as the gold in the 4-by-200–meter freestyle relay, with Phelps, Vanderkaay and Keller. The next year, at the Short Course World Championships, Lochte won six medals, including three gold, and set world records in the 200-meter individual medley, and both the 100- and 200-meter backstroke.

In 2007, Lochte set his first individual long-course world record, winning the gold in the 200-meter backstroke at the World Aquatic Championships. 

Beijing and London Olympics

At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Lochte won two gold and two bronze medals, and set world records in the 200-meter backstroke and 4-by-200–meter freestyle relay. His success continued beyond the Games, at both the 2009 and 2010 World Aquatics Championships. Between the two, he won 10 gold medals (six at the 2009 event, a record in itself) and a silver and bronze medal, and set two more world records.

Capping the year, Lochte was named "Male Swimmer of the Year" by the USA Swimming Foundation and "American Swimmer of the Year" by Swimming World Magazine.

In 2011, Lochte won five more gold medals at the World Aquatics Championships while preparing for the 2012 Summer Games in London. 

At the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Lochte won two gold medals, in the 400-meter individual medley and 4-by-200-meter freestyle team event; and two silver medals, in the 4-by-100-meter freestyle relay team event and 200-meter individual medley, losing the gold to Michael Phelps. He also placed fourth in the 200-meter freestyle.

Rio Olympics

In 2016, Lochte qualified to compete at his fourth Olympic Games, making him the third U.S. swimmer to achieve that distinction. 

On August 9, 2016, Lochte helped the U.S. team win gold in the men's 4x200 freestyle relay, alongside teammates Conor Dwyer, Townley Haas and Phelps. The victory was Lochte's 12th Olympic medal and sixth gold medal, earning him the distinction of being the second most decorated male swimmer in Olympic history after Phelps. 

Two days after Lochte won gold with Team U.S.A, he faced off against his friend, teammate and rival Phelps in the 200-meter individual medley, a race the media dubbed "the Duel in the Pool." Phelps took the gold, finishing at 1:54.66 seconds, right behind the world record of 1:54.00 that Lochte had set in 2009. Lochte failed to medal and expressed his disappointment to NBC Sports immediately following the race. 

"It's been a long journey. I just wish I did a little better," he said. "I felt great before the race. I guess I just didn't have it tonight. Kind of bummed, but I gave it my all, and that's all I can ask for."

Celebrity Status 

Known for making headlines for his unconventional choices, Lochte reportedly regularly ate McDonald's fast food while competing at the Beijing Olympics instead of following a strict diet, and he showed off his signature quirky fashion style while wearing a jewel-encrusted red, white and blue dental grill at the 2012 Olympics. 

His good looks also threw him into the spotlight, landing him on the cover of Vogue and on People magazine’s 2012 "Sexiest Man Alive" list. He made cameo appearances on 30 Rock and Beverly Hills 90210, and was spoofed by Seth MacFarlane on Saturday Night Live. He also tried to trademark his own catchphrase, "Jeah." "It means, like, almost everything," Lochte explained on YouTube. "Like happy. Like, if you have a good swim, you say, 'Jeah!' "

In 2013, the swimming superstar starred in his own reality TV show, What Would Ryan Lochte Do?, which aired on the E! channel.

For the 2016 Olympic Games, Lochte unveiled a new look, dying his hair blue-grey. "Usually I've always done the grills (on his teeth) at the Olympics," Lochte told USA Today. "I left the grills at home. I had to do something different so why not the hair? It's different, that's me, that's my personality. People say, 'Oh, you're hiding your gray hair now that you're 32,' which is true, so I went full gray."

Controversy in Rio

Lochte has been no stranger to grabbing headlines for his playboy lifestyle, but during the Olympic Games in Rio, he attracted a different kind of headline — one that involved Brazilian authorities. 

Lochte claimed that he and three other Olympic swimmers were robbed at gunpoint by men who were impersonating local police. However, when authorities investigated the claims and watched surveillance footage, they concluded there was no robbery. According to Brazilian authorities, an altercation occurred when the swimmers, who were reportedly intoxicated, vandalized the gas station's restroom. A security guard had drawn his gun and demanded the swimmers pay for the vandalism.  

At a press conference, Civil Police chief Fernando Veloso made the following statement: "In theory, one or all of them might be charged for false communication of a crime and for damaging private assets, the gas station. I'm not saying that they are charged right now because of that. We have to finalize the investigation and in theory that could be the case. This is not really a — this kind of crime will not lead to their arrest."

After the story dominated news headlines for several days and surveillance video of the incident was released, Lochte issued an apology in a statement posted on Instagram and Twitter. "I want to apologize for my behavior last weekend — for not being more careful and candid in how I described the events of that early morning and for my role in taking the focus away from the many athletes fulfilling their dreams of participating in the Olympics," he wrote.

Lochte was charged with falsely reporting a crime, and the investigation into the incident remained open for years afterward. Additionally, his behavior resulted in a 10-month suspension by USA Swimming and the loss of endorsements from Speedo and other companies. However, the attention also piqued the interest of Dancing With the Stars producers, who named the embattled swimmer to its Season 23 cast.

IV Suspension

Lochte found himself in trouble again after posting a photo of himself receiving an intravenous infusion in late May 2018. Two months later, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency announced a suspension of 14 months for the swimmer, on the grounds that he surpassed the infusion limit of 100 ml over a 12-hour period.

Lochte said he took the vitamin-infused IV to avoid catching an illness spreading among his family members, but nevertheless owned up to his mistake. "I know it sounds like a harsh penalty for something unintentional and where I didn't put anything prohibited in my body, but a rule's a rule and I accept that there was a technical violation and that I'll have to [accept the consequences]," he told reporters.

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