“I really wanted to be on the Olympic team,” an emotional Lochte said in a press conference after the race.
Swimmers Ryan Lochte and Cody Simpson both failed to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.
During the U.S. Olympic swimming trials on Friday night, Lochte — who is the winner of 12 Olympic medals, including six gold medals — finished seventh in the 200-meter individual medley and therefore didn’t qualify for what would have been his fifth attempt at a gold medal.
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The 36-year-old athlete was visibly emotional during a press conference after the race.
“Swimming has taken me so far,” he said. “Coming out of the water…I was very emotional and was taking it all in.”
Appearing to hold back tears, Lochte added, “I really wanted to be on the Olympic team. I think this is probably my most important swim meet that I’ve ever had in my entire career, the one that meant the most to me. So falling short and feeling like I let everyone down was one of the hardest things.”
Lochte — who is the second-most decorated American male Olympian — noted that he’s still going to continue to be involved in the sport, but he’s unsure if he’ll attempt to qualify for the Olympics again.
“This is not the last you’re going to see of me, whether it’s in the swimming pool or outside the pool trying to make this sport bigger,” he said, per USA Today. “I don’t know if this will be my last race, I don’t think so — actually I can say it won’t be — there’s still things I want to do.”
“As for another Olympic trials, I don’t know about that,” Lochte admitted. “I’ll be 40, that’s pushing it, but we’ll see, I mean anything can happen.”
Lochte finished seventh with a time of 1:59:67, which was nearly three seconds behind Chase Kalisz, who came in second. Michael Andrew took the top spot with a time of 1:55:44. However, Andrew didn’t beat Lochte’s world record of 1:54.
Following the qualifier, Lochte’s wife, Kayla, took to Instagram to praise her husband and posted a clip from the emotional press conference.
“Filled with so many emotions — but I don’t have the words yet..,” wrote Kayla, who shares son Caiden, 4, and daughter Liv, 2, with Lochte. “I just want to say how proud of you I am @ryanlocthe. “I love you and you will forever be a legend. Lots of tears and laughs to come ♥️ We felt the love and support last night so much so I also want to say thank you again for everyone’s messages. They were so heartfelt and uplifting 🥺♥️”
For Cody Simpson, it was his first time competing at the Australian Olympic Trials. The pop singer and athlete finished last in the 100-meter butterfly final and didn’t qualify for the 2020 Olympics, however, he said his goal is to make his home country’s team for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
“To be in that final, that is my achievement for this year, that is my gold medal at least for 2021,” he said, according to Billboard. “I didn’t expect to be remotely competitive until 2022-23 at the earliest.”
Simpson, 24, also reflected on his race on Instagram.
“What an experience racing at my first Australian Olympic Trials,” he wrote alongside a photo of himself swimming. “To make a final was our goal this year and with less than a year of training we did just that. I’ve come so much further than I expected to this year and to be racing the best in the country already is a privilege. Thanks to @hawkebr and my training partner Matt Targett for pushing me everyday throughout COVID and to my new coach Michael Bohl for the wisdom and swift preparation! I’m so psyched to get back to training. See you in 3 years.. 😎”
The 2020 Summer Olympics kick off on July 23.