Ryan Lochte Says Fatherhood Makes Him a 'Better Athlete' Ahead of Olympics: 'I'm More Focused'
Ryan Lochte isn't letting fatherhood slow him down!
The second-most decorated swimmer in Olympic history is busy training for this summer's Tokyo Games while also balancing his duties as a family man. While Lochte exclusively tells PEOPLE both of his children love swimming, daughter Liv Rae, 20 months, and son Caiden Zane, 3, don't make his practicing any easier.
"It's hard juggling because I want to be the best dad," he says. "After I'm done with practice, I can't go home and take a nap. I have to be 'Super Dad' when I get home. A lot of my competitors do recovery and stuff like that, but I'm limited because my most important thing is being a dad."
Luckily, Lochte, 36, isn't doing things alone. With the support of wife Kayla, the athlete has made it to every single practice at a quarantine-friendly facility near the family's Gainesville, Florida, home.
"There's been times when I don't want to wake up and go to the swimming pool, but she kicks my a-- out of the bed and is like, 'You're going to practice. You've got a job to do,' " he admits. "She's been my rock. I've been through a lot of tough times and she's been right there pushing me, keeping my head up and motivating me to just become a better person. We're a good team."
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"I'm more focused and I'm only getting better," he adds, getting emotional about how fatherhood gave him "a new purpose and a new love for swimming" after a series of controversial run-ins with the law in 2016 made him consider quitting the sport.
"I'm doing it for them," he says, tearing up. "I want to show them that in life, you're going to get knocked down, but it's how you get up and how you keep moving forward that's going to define you as a person."
According to Lochte, the Tokyo Games being delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic has just given him more time to improve.
"I thought I was ready for 2020, and when they postponed it I started looking at the positive side of having another year under my belt," he says. "I'm going to get stronger, mentally prepare myself even more, I'm just going to be a better athlete. I'm so excited because I have so much determination and I'm just ready to go!"
Now fans of Lochte can train at home just like the star himself. With the help of Suprema Fitness, the swimmer has created his own digital fitness platform so people at home can do live workouts with Lochte as he prepares for the Olympics.
Loch'd In Training is a subscription-based website that gives fans both on-demand access to Lochte's fitness routines, as well as twice-weekly live workouts with him to get a firsthand look at how he gets Olympics-ready.
"Since I started making the Olympic team back in 2004, I've had so many swimmers and people wanting to know how I train," he explains. "All the exercises that we're doing work some part of your body that you need to be a swimmer, and they're things I do as part of my routine."
Jennifer Cohen, fitness expert and co-founder of Suprema Fitness, is excited for Lochte to bring his unique experience to the virtual fitness space.
"You can go on Instagram and have any fitness person showing you how to do a squat or how to do a lunge, but there's nobody at Ryan's level who is taking you along with them while they're training for the Olympics," she tells PEOPLE. "You can work out just like an Olympian, just like an athlete at that level, whether you're modifying it or doing exactly what he's doing."
"Once people subscribe, we want to give them as much meat on the bone as possible," Cohen adds. "When they first join his community, besides just giving everybody the opportunity to exercise live in real time with Ryan, we want them to have a whole plethora of workouts to choose from."
For Lochte, it was a chance to give fans an inside-look at how he actually prepares for the pool, giving them an opportunity to feel a bit closer to a gold medal.
"It's just so unique because people are going to be able to work out with me at the exact same time, and who doesn't want that?" he says with a laugh.
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