Ryan Lochte is mad, and that’s rare.
The 12-time Olympic medalist known for his goofy smile and laid-back attitude was ticked off about his performances in the pool at the U.S. Open, the first major meet in America since the coronavirus pandemic shut down sports in mid-March.
Lochte finished third in the 200-meter individual medley with a time 2 minutes, 1.05 seconds on Friday — well behind winner Chase Kalisz in 1:59.72. He was 26th in the 200 freestyle and 51st in the 100 backstroke. Lochte swam the 200 back on Saturday and dropped the 100 free. Times from all nine meet sites were combined to determine overall placement.
“This is probably going to go down as my worst meet that I’ve ever had,” he said by phone from Sarasota, Florida. “I do not like swimming this bad. When I get back (home), I’m going to start turning it up again.”
Lochte's former U.S. national teammate Dara Torres endured her own setbacks in qualifying for a fifth Olympic team in 2008.
“Sometimes it’s good to be discouraged, because you figure out went wrong and get a new attitude,” she told The Associated Press by phone.
At 36, Lochte is taking aim at making a fifth Olympic team. He’s easily the oldest swimmer on deck, surrounded by youngsters who he jokes were in diapers when he won his first gold medal at the 2004 Athens Games.
Time is not on his side. Lochte figures he’s competed in just seven meets since 2016. He only resumed training about five weeks ago, his plans disrupted in part by closures and restrictions put in place because of the coronavirus. Future competitions are up in the air, depending on the pandemic. The U.S. Olympic trials are next June, about a month before the rescheduled Tokyo Games.