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Ryan Lochte’s journey to Tokyo isn’t off to a great start this week in Omaha, Nebraska.
The 36-year-old failed to advance out of the prelims of the 200-meter freestyle on Monday at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials, the first race he’s competed in at the event.
Lochte finished with a time of 1:49.23 in the prelim, good enough for 25th. Only the top-16 finishers advanced. Kieran Smith posted the best time at 1:46.54.
Lochte has 12 medals, including six gold medals, from his four Olympics appearances. He’s been part of the 4x200-meter freestyle team, along with Michael Phelps, that has won gold at the last four Games dating back to Athens in 2004.
Can Ryan Lochte still make it to Tokyo?
Lochte entered into six races at the trials this week, but scratched out of both the 100-meter backstroke and the 400-meter individual medley. His best shot at making it back to Tokyo was never at the 200-meter freestyle, either.
Realistically, though, he has one race left to make it to his fifth straight Olympics.
Lochte will compete later this week in the 200-meter IM, where he is most likely to qualify for the Games. He took fifth in that race at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, and won silver at the 2012 Games in London.
And after how it went for Lochte in Brazil — he and others were involved in an incident at a Rio de Janeiro gas station and Lochte “overexaggerated that story” about being robbed at gunpoint, which resulted in him losing all of his major sponsors — he’s trying to prove himself once more.
“I’m a new person," Lochte said before the trials, via USA Today. “I have a new fire. I’m not swimming just for myself.
“I’m swimming to prove everyone wrong, all the doubters out there, all the haters. And I’m doing it for my family and for myself."
The Tokyo Olympics — which were rescheduled a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic — are set to start on July 23.
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