By Sharon Robb
STANFORD, Calif., August 2, 2019—Olympic champion Ryan Lochte returned to the competitive spotlight Wednesday at the Phillips 66 National Championships at Stanford University’s Avery Aquatic Center.
On opening day, Lochte swam the fourth-fastest time by an American in the 200-meter individual medley during a time trial and qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in 1:57.88. The time is only 3.88 seconds off his world record time.
“I’m back, woo,” Lochte told reporters after his race. “It’s been a long three years but it’s good to be back, get on those blocks and race again.”
Lochte, 35, a father of two, is coming off a 14-month suspension for receiving an infusion of vitamin B-12 above the allowed limit. During his suspension, he checked himself into a rehab center in Florida for six weeks to fight alcohol abuse.
“I don’t do that much anymore,” Lochte said. “I’ve been splotchy with my swimming. Family trumps everything. Swimming has been my second priority. Nationals, for me, is a stepping stone to see where I’m at in the swimming world. It’s a long journey to next year to see what I can do.”
South Florida Aquatic Club’s Mary Smutny and Kathleen Golding got in their first swims on Wednesday.
Smutny, 18, was 49th in the 200-meter butterfly in 2:15.74. Golding, 18, was 97th in the 100-meter freestyle in 57.56.
Wednesday night opening winners were:
Women’s 800-meter freestyle, Ally McHugh, 22, WA 8:26.04.
Men’s 1500-meter freestyle, Bobby Finke, 19, St. Petersburg Aquatics 14:51.15.
Women’s and men’s 200-meter butterfly, Regan Smith, RIPT 2:07.26; Luca Urlando, 17, DART 1:54.92.
Women’s and men’s 100-meter freestyle, Abbey Weitzell, CAL 43.18; Ryan Held, NYAC 47.39, third fastest time this year.
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org