Franklin finishes Arena Grand Prix with two more victories
Ryan Lochte got back to where he feels most at home this week, earning a victory Saturday in the 200-meter individual medley on the final day of the Arena Grand Prix.
It was a refreshing change for the 11-time Olympic medalist, whose training has suffered while he's filming a reality TV show.
"One thing I can take from this meet is I need to be in the water on a consistent basis," said Lochte, whose show, "What Would Ryan Lochte do," will debut in April on E! Entertainment Television. "Shooting this show, which I love doing - it's good for the sport - but I didn't realize they'd be pulling me in different directions all the time, and I haven't really been consistent in the pool."
Lochte competed in two other events at this week's meet, finishing third in the 100 backstroke Friday and a disappointing fifth in the 200 back Saturday.
The most successful appearance at the meet belonged to Missy Franklin, who made it four wins in three nights Saturday. The four-time gold medalist at last year's London Olympic Games won the 200 backstroke in 2 minutes, 8.47 seconds and added the 100-free title by beating fellow Olympian Christine Magnuson 55.37 to 55.99. Franklin also won the 100 back on Friday and 200 freestyle on Thursday.
Also putting in a strong showing was Tyler Clary with a win in the 200 back on Saturday for his third victory of the meet.
Though part of Lochte's focus at the event was on trying out some new techniques, and he entered the meet with low expectations, results like the one in the 200 back still don't sit well with him.
"What didn't go wrong?" Lochte said. "Off the start, my hands weren't together, I was diving in like an age-grouper, my kick-outs weren't good at all, my strokes were just choppy, I didn't build into each roll, wasn't finishing my kick-out stroke. I don't even know what happened in freestyle."
Lochte is no stranger to TV stardom, already making cameos on a number of shows. But the commitment level to this show, which is starting the third in eight weeks of shooting, has been something else entirely.
"This is totally different from making a cameo on `(Beverly Hills) 90210' or `30 Rock'," Lochte said. "This is consuming my life. When I go to practice, right after practice, I have to go home, change and start shooting for the show, and it doesn't stop until 10 or 11 at night."
He estimates he is making about half of his regularly scheduled practices, drawing the ire of coach Gregg Troy.
"Gregg hates it," Lochte said with a grin. "He calls me, yelling at me all the time, threatening to kick me off the team and go somewhere else. I'm like, look, this is for me, just stick with me for eight weeks until we're done shooting this show and then I'll get back into it."
His father and former coach, Steve Lochte, hopes the added obligations don't distract his son too much.
"I hope it works for him," said Steve, who is hoping to avoid making any appearances. "I personally don't want anything to do with it, but if it sends a message to the general population about what a great sport swimming is, I'm all for it."
And that, after all, is why Lochte is doing it.
"At the Olympics, it's the swimming show," Lochte said. "Everyone talks about swimming. Then swimming disappears. And no one remembers it. We want to make swimming bigger than four years ago. And the only way to do that is to have a reality show. Hopefully this show turns out great."
And that's why, despite the strain on his swimming - and the relationship with his coach - he's already talking about season two next year.
"By all means," he said, smiling. "(Gregg) might have a heart attack if he hears that."