One day after getting engaged, Ryan Lochte took to the Dancing With the Stars stage to deliver a beautiful performance with his pro partner, Cheryl Burke, which earned them their highest score of the season.
The Olympic gold medalist spoke with ET's Nischelle Turner after the show to dish on his new fiancée, Kayla Rae Reid, and how "excited" he is to be entering this next chapter of his life.
"This is what I’ve been wanting my entire life: to have a family of my own and to find that right one," the 32-year-old swimmer shared. "I finally found her and I’m just so excited!"
Lochte popped the question on Sunday, according to a post on his Instagram page, which featured Reid showing off her stunning new sparkler as the couple shared a sweet kiss on a hilltop in Los Angeles.
“When I first said I loved her, I just knew there was something different about her," he added.
The swimmer, who faced a great deal of controversy and negative press this summer following his false report of being robbed at gunpoint in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil during the Olympic Games, said that his recent struggles have only strengthened his relationship with Reid.
"Through everything that’s happened, we’ve established ups and downs [that] most people establish in a relationship in 20 years. We did it in a matter of almost a year," Lochte explained. "She stuck right there by me and just was my rock. That’s when I knew. I was like, 'I’m not letting this one go.'"
The Olympian said he'd practiced popping the question ahead of time, explaining that he "rehearsed it in my bathroom [by] getting down on one knee, opening up the [ring box]."
However, when the time came to do it for real, Lochte said he couldn't quite make it work the way he had hoped.
"I couldn't get the ring out of my pocket, so I was like, 'No I'm ruining this!' And then the words couldn't come out of my mouth and I was like, 'What is going on? Just say how I feel!’" he recounted. "All I could say is, 'I love you so much, I'll never hurt you, will you marry me?' And she started crying and gave me a big hug, and I was like, 'YES!'"
On Monday's DWTS, however, Lochte dedicated his performance to another important lady in his life: his mother, Ileana. The contemporary dance, set to "A Song for You" by Leon Russell, received some of Lochte's best reviews from the judges.
Judge Bruno Tonioli told the swimmer that the dance was his most honest performances of the season thus far, which Lochte said he agrees with.
"I'm a really sensitive guy and I do wear my heart on my sleeve and what people don't really notice is the true me," he shared. "If you get to know me, you'll see it. I just want everyone to be happy and just love each other."
After his stellar number, Lochte ran over to give his mom a hug and a kiss, and tried to keep from breaking into tears.
"She was immediately bawling her eyes out and I was trying to hold it back and not cry," he recalled. "She's just been through everything with me and it's just been amazing."
For more on Lochte's recent engagement, check out the video below.