OMAHA – He made a receiving line as if in a wake, celebrating Ryan Lochte for the last time at the U.S. Olympic Trials Friday night after he died of natural causes from his long swimming career.
Lochte, 36, the second-most decorated US male Olympian, missed qualifying for the fifth trip to the Summer Games, falling short in the 200-meter individual medley, his signature event. He finished seventh, nearly three seconds behind Chase Kalis, who took second qualifying place behind winner Michael Andrew.
Andrew was timed in 1 minute 55.44 seconds, which was well ahead of Lochte’s world record of 1:54, which he set in 2011. Kalisz clocked 1:56.97 for Lochte’s 1:59.67. Lochte was the last contestant to pull himself out of the pool, and once on deck he was immediately embraced by Kalisz.
Andrew, who had qualified for his first Olympic team in the 100 breaststroke earlier in the week, was next to hug Lochte, and he did so twice, before and after he shouldered for an on-deck television interview. Standing side by side.
Lochte, who was bidding to become the oldest American male swimmer on the Olympic team, sought out his wife, Kayla Rae Reed, and their sons and daughter, Caiden and Liv, who sat behind the starting blocks.
He held Liv in his arms and took the spirited scene at the CHI health center as if committing it to memory.
After returning his daughter to the stands, Lochte closed his eyes with his good friend and biggest rival, Michael Phelps, who made his way from a seat in the broadcast booth to the pool deck, where he provided an analysis of the race. was.
For more than a decade, Lochte played foil for Phelps, earning him many of his 28 Olympic medals. Lochte has 12 medals to his name including six gold. Both competed at the Olympics in six individual finals, the last of which was the 200 IM at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, and five times behind Lochte Phelps. the exception was 400 IM at the 2012 Olympics, where Lochte took the gold and Phelps finished fourth.
“I really wanted to be on the Olympic team,” said Lochte, who struggled to shed tears and paused several times to compose himself.
He insisted that he had not taken up swimming, but acknowledged that his days of competing for an Olympic berth were probably over.
“I still want to run,” he said, “but as far as another Olympic Trials, I don’t know about it.”
Because of its fun nature, Lochte often provided the ballast for Phelps’ machine-like efficiency. However, his popularity waned in 2016. he falsely claimed That he was robbed at gunpoint while partying after competing with three other members of the US men’s Olympic swimming team in Rio de Janeiro. A criminal case against him was eventually dismissed.
Two years later, he served suspension after receiving an intravenous injection, which was banned under antidoping rules.
Lochte telling anyone who will listen that he is a different person now.
“I wanted to prove to everyone that I have changed and I am a different person,” he said after his race Friday night.