After finishing fifth in Thursday’s 200-meter individual medley – his last battle against teammate and rival Michael Phelps at the 2016 Summer Olympics – Ryan Lochte told NBC that he’ll be taking some time off.
“I need a break, mentally and physically,” he said.
“I definitely feel the same way,” he explained. “I haven’t taken a break since I first started swimming. The longest break I’ve taken was a month. Going in, day in and day out, and just beating up your body takes a toll.”
“Being at the age I am right now, it’s definitely time to take a break,” the 32-year-old continued. “But I can’t say it’s over.”
“I think that loss kind of sparked a little fire in me,” he added.
From the beginning of Thursday’s highly-anticipated 200-meter individual medley battle, it appeared Lochte might claim gold. He was in the lead for the first part of the race but fell behind, eventually placing fifth.
“I was feeling great right before,” he told Lauer of his performance. “Something happened in the middle of the race where it just fell apart.”
Speculating on what he believed could have been the cause of the loss, he said “I think I used too much energy in the front half and that kind of hurt me towards the end.”
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“I just felt the pain,” he revealed. “The pain – that lactic acid started building up really quick and I was like, ‘Ooh this is gonna hurt.’ ”
If he were to do it again, he said he would do things differently.
“If I was to do that race again, the second leg backstroke – I definitely would have laid off my legs a little. I think I would have had a better outcome in that race.”
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Despite not winning a medal in his last Rio race, Lochte is still the second most decorated male swimmer of all time.
While he’s only bested Phelps once at the Olympics – in the 400-meter individual medley at the 2012 London Games – the swimmers insist there’s nothing but love and friendly competition between them.
“[He’s] definitely an inspiration,” Lochte told Lauer of Phelps. “Just what he’s accomplished in the sport – he brings the best out of me, and hopefully I can say the same for him. The rivalry that we’ve created and that friendship – I’m definitely going to cherish it for the rest of my life.”
As for whether the two will face off again, Lochte is confident they will have another “Duel in the Pool” at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
“I guarantee he will be there,” he said, going against Phelps claims that Rio would be his last Olympic Games. “I think so – I really think so.”
“Michael, I’ll see you in Tokyo,” he said.