Ryan Lochte, the current headliner among the pack of Olympic-caliber swimmers in Charlotte, may no longer live in the Queen City by the end of this year.
Lochte, 31, has been pointing toward the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil since he moved to Charlotte in October 2013 to train under SwimMAC Carolina’s head coach David Marsh. Those Olympics are five months away.
After that, Lochte told me Monday, he has no idea if he will stay in Charlotte to train, move somewhere else or simply retire and “hang up the Speedo,” as he put it.
I asked Lochte about the issue Monday at the Team USA Media Summit – a gathering of hundreds of Olympic athletes and journalists in Los Angeles – whether he would be back in Charlotte after these Olympics.
“I don’t know,” Lochte said, “I have no idea whether I’m going to stay there (in Charlotte) or not. ... After Rio, when it’s all said and done, I’ll definitely go back to Charlotte and think whether I want to keep staying here training, or, I mean, I could hang up the Speedo after Rio. So I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m putting all my main focus until this summer, and then I’ll go from there.”
Lochte added he had loved his time in Charlotte with SwimMAC and the “Southern hospitality” he has been shown since moving to the Queen City. Lochte’s best friend, fellow Olympic gold-medalist swimmer Cullen Jones, was among those who helped persuade Lochte to move to Charlotte 2 1/2 years ago. But Marsh was the biggest factor – he remains one of the most respected swim coaches in the world and is especially adept at the out-of-the-box training Lochte has craved in the latter stages of his career.
Lochte, an 11-time Olympic medalist for the U.S., must first make the Olympic team in late June at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials in Omaha. He is expected to do so in multiple events (several other swimmers with SwimMAC ties should make it as well). The Olympics begin Aug. 5 in Brazil.