Mesa - Three-time Olympian Ryan Lochte is looking toward Rio 2016 with renewed enthusiasm, thanks in part to the return of swimming great Michael Phelps.
Lochte, 29, counts five gold among his 11 Olympic medals and owns 15 long course world titles.
He long toiled in the shadow of Phelps, whose record 22 Olympic medals include 18 gold, but says the US giant's comeback bid helped him shake off the doldrums that had him questioning his swimming future.
"I was going through a rough patch after worlds last summer," Lochte said. "I wasn't really motivated about getting back in the water."
Things got worse in November, when Lochte suffered ligament damage in his left knee in a freakish accident -- falling as he tried to intercept an overzealous teenage fan.
"I was like, 'Maybe I should just throw in the towel now,'" the normally irrepressible Lochte said.
"But I found that little spark that kept me going and different ways of making swimming fun again.
"Having Phelps back in the water definitely helps, because we're going to go back to me and him pushing each other. We'll try to give you guys a show."
Lochte narrowly beat Phelps on Thursday in the 100m butterfly final at the Mesa Grand Prix in Arizona -- Phelps's first final in a comeback that could take him all the way to the 2016 Olympics.
Lochte said a move to Charlotte, North Carolina, to train with coach David Marsh has improved his outlook and helped him find the fun in swimming again.
Now that his knee is "almost 100 percent" he's looking ahead with renewed enthusiasm.
"I'm just going to take each race at a time and see what happens," Lochte said. "But I'm glad I'm back."