ORLANDO, Fla. – Ryan Lochte is warming to the idea of being a TV star.
Even if it’s not doing much for his swimming.
Lochte is struggling to balance the demands of getting ready for this summer’s world championships and filming a new reality television show, which begins airing on E! Entertainment Television in April.
The 11-time Olympic medalist concedes that shooting “What Would Ryan Lochte Do?” makes it difficult to do the sort of training he needs to be consistent in the pool.
He’s supposed be practicing nine times a week, but rarely makes more than four or five.
“I didn’t realize they were going to be pulling me in different directions all the time,” Lochte said Saturday night after wrapping up the Orlando Grand Prix with a victory in the 200-meter individual medley. “I’m stronger than I’ve ever been outside the pool. But in the pool, I haven’t been able to train on a consistent basis.”
While Lochte won his final event in Orlando, he wasn’t happy with the way he did it. “I messed up everything possible in that race,” he said.
His other events were even worse. He finished second in the 100 butterfly, third in the 100 backstroke and a disappointing fifth in the 200 back, which has long been one of his strongest races.
While Lochte has made cameos on “30 Rock” and other shows since winning two golds, two silvers and a bronze at the London Games, the reality show has proven to be much more demanding.
“This is totally different,” he said. “This is consuming my life.”
Even when Lochte makes it to practice, he has to get right back to filming as soon as he’s done.
“I have to go home, change and start shooting for the show,” he said. “It doesn’t stop until 10 or 11 o’clock at night. We’re shooting every day, all day, nonstop. I swear, in the past two weeks, I’ve gotten a lot of gray hairs just from this meet and shooting this show.”
The fact is: Lochte might become more famous for an eight-episode reality show than anything he’s done at the pool. He’s got six more weeks of filming – a small price to pay, he figures, and why he pushed so hard to persuade his demanding coach, Gregg Troy, this was the right thing to do.
“I tell him, ‘Look, this is for me. Just stick with me for eight weeks, until I’m done shooting this show. Then I’ll get back into it,”’ Lochte said.