San Francisco - A
rejuvenated Ryan Lochte returned to competitive swimming for the first
time in more than a year on Wednesday, insisting he was a changed man as
he targets a medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Lochte, who turns 35 on Saturday, booked his place at the US Olympic
trials after clocking 1:57.88 in the 200 medley at the US National
Championships in Palo Alto.
Although the time was nearly four seconds slower than his world
record, five-time Olympic gold medalist Lochte was happy with his
performance as he sets out on the comeback trail after a turbulent three
Lochte was suspended from swimming for 10 months after the scandal at
the 2016 Olympics, when he was found to have fabricated a story about a
robbery during a drunken late-night episode in Rio de Janeiro.
He was given a further 14-month ban last year by the US Anti-Doping
Agency for taking a banned intravenous infusion of what he said were
vitamins in May 2018.
Lochte, who underwent treatment for alcohol abuse in Florida last
year, said on Wednesday he could understand why fans might not have faith
in him as he embarks on his comeback.
"That's understandable, especially through the roller coaster I've
been on," Lochte told a press conference.
"But right now I'm not trying
to prove anything to anyone.
"I'm doing this for me and my family. I want to go to the 2020
Olympics, my fifth Olympics, and hopefully get on the podium there.
"Everything I do from here in the pool and outside the pool is for my family."
Lochte said he had sought treatment for alcohol abuse after deciding
his life "needed a change", adding that the birth of his son Caiden in
2017 and daughter Liv last month had given him a new outlook on life.
"I checked myself into rehab. I did the classes, I got out, I did
everything," he said.
"Since Caiden and my new daughter have been born I
have a new perspective on life.
"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've had a lot of ups and downs. I'm just here to race and have my goals set for 2020."