Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte is excited about 2017 and understandably eager to put 2016 far behind him.
That's understandable —a tumultuous 2016 Summer Games in Rio found him embroiled in an international scandal after he and other members of the U.S. men's swim team apparently vandalized a bathroom while intoxicated and then told inconsistent stories to Brazilian police about being held at gunpoint for money. The resulting fallout drew attention away from his success, earning his 12th medal in his Olympic career.
But this year Lochte is expecting to collect two new titles: husband and father.
Lochte and his fianceé, Kayla Rae Reid, recently found out that their baby due in June is a boy. "I called my dad and told him, 'The Lochte name lives on!'" he said. "He was so excited." The couple are planning a late 2017 wedding.
In the meantime, Lochte, who is working with PowerBar on their Clean Start campaign, is focused on his future. "By all means, 2016 is in the past," he told TODAY Parents. "Having a family is the best thing that could ever happen to me. I had lost my spark, but I have found it again.
"I am swimming faster," he said. "I have more of a purpose to start training harder, to have more determination and motivation. My goals are high and my dreams are high. New year, new me."
Lochte and Reid are moving to California in the next few weeks, where Lochte plans to start training again — with 2020 in mind. "I want to teach my kids what my parents taught me," he said. "I want them to see my dedication to my family and to my dreams, and I want more gold medals in 2020."
Lochte said he has always hoped to have a baby boy first, then a girl, "to have that big brother-little sister dynamic." He said he hopes to pass on the values to his son that his dad taught him: "My dad taught me that life is too short, and you never know what's going to happen, so you have to enjoy it and have fun no matter what," he said.
"He said that no matter what you do —dentist, doctor, or professional swimmer — you do it 110 percent, you go all in. You never want to say, 'What if?'" he added. Lochte has won six gold, three silver, and three bronze Olympic medals and is the second most decorated Olympic swimmer behind his former teammate Michael Phelps, who also became a father to a baby boy in the past year.
Lochte has some "fatherly" advice of his own for younger athletes now training for their first Olympics in a little over a year, when the Winter Games go to South Korea in February of 2018. "Being an Olympic athlete, you can't let yourself get overwhelmed with what’s going to happen," he said. "Not everything is going to go as smoothly as possible, but you have to enjoy it. Making it to the Olympics is something not many athletes can say.
"It's a dream come true."