Ryan Lochte is one of the world’s fastest swimmers. He’s an 11-time Olympic medalist, and holds four world records for his aquatic abilities. Recently, he’s been in the public eye for headlines surrounding his personal life: comments made by his mother about possible one-night stands, public hook-ups with celebrities, his occasionally stumbling interviews (“The reason why I love swimming is because racing”). But what do we know about the Olympian’s personal life outside of the tabloids? In his latest endeavor, What Would Ryan Lochte Do?, an eight-episode reality TV show premiering April 21 at 10 p.m. on E!, we might just find out.
The show’s first episode showcases Lochte both in and out of the pool, but the results are anything but gold. We see Lochte’s budding bromance with Gene, his assistant and friend, as the two get drunk together on the golf course, talk about women, and engage in debauchery. “Is that bad if your pee is neon?” he asks Gene while relieving himself on the golf course. (According to this chart, if your urine is “neon,” you may be severely dehydrated.) Lochte also takes a trip to D.C.; upon arriving in Washington, Lochte exclaims, “We’re going to meet Abe Lincoln!” He also has his first encounter with Washington women, who quickly intimidate him with a plethora of political queries. The rest of the season appears to follow suit, as Lochte goes on dates, shows off words from his fictional vocabulary, and goofs around with friends and family.
Earlier this month, Lochte spoke to The Daily Beast about his fitness routine, his family, his romantic relationships, and more. What follows is a completely unedited transcript of that conversation.
Between swim practice, family, friends, and dating, how do you balance everything?
You know, I kinda roll with the punches. I take each thing at a time. I don’t try to really overwhelm myself. And, you know, just, yeah, baby steps basically.
Your family appears on the show. What did they think of the idea of being on a reality TV show with you?
They think it’s great because they understand why I’m doing the show. They completely respect that decision. I told them like, you understand, you’re gonna be a part of the show, cause like you’re my family, and I’m really close with you guys, and are you guys OK with having cameras around you 24/7? And they’re like “What?” Yeah, that’s one of the things with having a reality TV show. And, but, I talked them into it, and they loved it. Once the show was done shooting they said, “Oh my gosh, I hope we get a second season cause that was so much fun.”
Would you do a second season?
Oh, by all means. This was like a once in a lifetime experience and I enjoyed it because … you know what the best thing about this show was? It was I was able to hang out with my family more than I’ve ever hung out with them in the past, just because with my hectic schedule, I didn’t really have time. But the show, like, I was able to hang out with them more, and my friends, and guess what? I get to call it work. So like, that was like the best thing ever.
You go on some dates while filming. How did they go?
Um…well, I can tell you that I’m still single.
So you didn’t meet anyone special?
No, but you know, girls that, you know, they, they’re—every girl that I went on a date with on this show was, like, on paper, they were like perfect. They made me laugh, I enjoyed their company, they were smart, funny, pretty—like, everything. The only thing why it didn’t really work out was just because of my lifestyle, my hectic lifestyle. You know, because I have obligations to sponsors that makes me travel a lot. That’s one of the main reasons why they didn’t like it. And if they don’t like it, well, then it’s not going to work because it’s just gonna cause a lot of arguments and stuff like that, and I don’t want that.
What are you looking for in a woman?
You know, honestly, if a girl can make me laugh, I’m pretty much sold. In life, like, I’m always living life to the fullest to always have fun. So I’m always, like, a happy guy, and if something’s bothering me, like I’m gonna go out, I’m gonna fix it, just so I’m not miserable. Life is too short to wait, you have to experience it and enjoy it as much as you can. If they’re on the same page as me with that, we’re sold.
What’s the first thing you notice about what a woman is wearing?
What a woman is wearing? Um, it’s not like a particular clothing. Um… if she’s, like, really well dressed and takes care of her body, like, she’s not like going out there in like basketball shorts or something, she’s actually watching what she wears, and she, like, wants to dress really nice, that, to me, is attractive. Like I’m gonna look at that and be like, “Wow, she’s really like, independent. She’s independent, she can handle herself.” So I like that.
Your friend on the show, Gene, claims you’re always with a different woman. Is that true?
Um… (Laughs.) I asked him about that. I was like, “What did you mean by that?” I go on different dates because something happens where that girl doesn’t work out, so I go on a different date because that one didn’t work out. He knows that, he understands that, so that’s why he says I’m on a different date all the time, with a different girl. And it’s just because it didn’t work out and you know, like, what I really want is, I want to find that one true love that I want to spend the rest of my life with. And I just haven’t found that yet. So, I’m still looking.
In the trailer for your show, you joke at wanting to run for president. Do you have any political aspirations?
(Laughs.) You know, I don’t, just because with swimming I spend pretty much all my time in the swimming pool, training. So I haven’t really had time to get into politics, the whole president thing was kind of just a joke, because I was in Washington D.C. with my mom and I was just making a joke and she was like, “Oh no! Don’t say that!”
Obviously you’re an incredible swimmer. What’s something you’re not so good at?
Um, hmm… I think anything with sports I’m pretty good at. Because, like, I am an athlete, I’ve been known to, like—I can do other sports.
What can you tell me about your fitness routine?
I love working out. I mean, I’ve been doing it for about 20 years every day of my entire life. So I enjoy working out. And, um, I mean, with swimming, you have to train all the time. You don’t really get breaks. If you take a day off from swimming, it’s going to take you like three or four days to get back in shape. So if I take a week off, it takes me months to get back in shape, so, I mean, I always have to stay training at all times.
Can you share any tips for staying in shape?
I guess the biggest thing is you have to just be committed to it. There’s a lot of people that, like, you know, want to be in shape and want to have that physique, that athletic body. But they don’t understand that it’s not gonna come easy. They’re going to have to work for it; you honestly have to. It’s not like, “Oh, I’ll work out today and next week I’ll work out once again.” You have to do it on a daily routine.
What about diet? Do you follow any rules or do you eat what you want?
With swimming, I burn a lot of calories. I’m able to eat pretty much anything and it won’t affect me. But I don’t. When I was younger, I did that. I mean, my diet consisted of Skittles and Mountain Dew. It’s definitely not healthy. But when I got older, I started maturing and knowing my body a lot more. And one of the things that I found out was, everything you put in your body actually has an effect on just your overall, on how you feel, your attitude, everything. So I started eating healthy and I’ve been eating healthy for the past four or five years. My training, my attitude in life has just been phenomenal. I’ve been in a great mood. I train really hard and I just feel good.
I know you have an interest in fashion. What’s the status of your Lochte fashion line?
You know, I put my fashion line on hold, just because anything I do in my life I want to do 100 percent, and right now my biggest goal is Rio 2016 Olympics. So I’ve got to focus on that. But after my swimming’s all finished, when I hang up the Speedo, I definitely will commit to fashion and take that more seriously.
On the show, we see you showing up to swim practice hungover. Was your coach upset?
Yeah. I mean, they know I’m not your average Olympian. I mean, when you think of an Olympian you think they train, eat, sleep—that’s all they do. But if I did that I’d have quit swimming years and years ago. So like, I do like to go out, I like to go out, have some drinks with my friends, go dancing. I have another life outside of the sport of swimming, and you’ll see that on the show. So there are times where I go out, I have a good time, but I have a job to do, and I have to show up in the morning and train. Sometimes the coaches don’t like that, but they understand.