Apr 23, 2014, 8:34 PM EDT
Ryan Lochte said he questioned his future in swimming after a November knee injury, but hearing rumors last fall of Michael Phelps‘ return motivated him.
“I was going through a rough patch after worlds last summer,” Lochte told NBC News. “I took a lot of time off, plus my injury. I almost didn’t come back to the sport of swimming. Then I started hearing rumors of him being in the water, training. I was like, you know what, this is good. This is good for the sport. It’s good for me. We push each other all the time. He knows I’m training hard. I know he’s training hard.”
Lochte, like Phelps, is scheduled to swim in the Arena Grand Prix at Mesa, Ariz., beginning Thursday. Lochte is back after going against doctors’ suggestions racing in Orlando in February, about three and a half months after he reportedly tore his left MCL and sprained his ACL after a teenage girl ran to him, he caught her and they both fell. His knee hit a curb, Lochte’s publicist said.
Lochte said his injured knee hurt after swimming in February, that he pushed it too hard.
The 11-time Olympic medalist is back now and ready to race against Phelps, just like he has at the last three Games. Lochte was not surprised by Phelps’ comeback after 20 months away from competition. He called it as far back as 2012.
“He announced his retirement and everything,” Lochte said. “I was like, don’t kid yourself. You’re going to miss it. You’re going to want to come back. You’re going to miss that limelight. … Once you’ve done something for so long every day pretty much your entire life, then, all of a sudden, it just disappears, you’re going to miss it. Hey, I was right.”
Lochte said there’s no doubt in his mind Phelps will post fast times.
“I don’t think he’s taken really a break,” Lochte said. “I think he’s been in the water. I think he’s just kidding everyone. That’s my guess.”
- Flashback: Usain Bolt at the Athens 2004 Olympics (video) 0
- Lance Armstrong: Competitors know I won 7 Tour de France titles 8
- Bruce Jenner on Vanity Fair cover: ‘Call me Caitlyn’ 23
- Cancer survivor becomes oldest woman to finish a marathon 1
- Gwen Jorgensen leads U.S. sweep, wins 10th straight World Triathlon Series race 0
- Justin Gatlin, Allyson Felix sizzle at Prefontaine Classic 2
- Dara Torres picks greatest female swimmer(s) of all time, recalls teenage Michael Phelps, more in Q&A 1
- Emotional Bode Miller medals in race that mattered most (61)
- Russian women kissing after relay victory at World Championships causes stir (60)
- IOC drops wrestling from 2020 Olympics (47)
- South Korea filing official complaint over Yuna Kim’s Olympic silver (39)
- Zola Budd, 47, dominates college runners in 5K (33)