The 32-year-old Olympic swimmer recently stopped by The Ellen DeGeneres show with his Dancing With the Stars season 23 partner, Cheryl Burke, and talked for the first time about being hit with a 10-month suspension by The United States Olympic Committee and USA Swimming.
"You know, I've been swimming my entire life, and I've never taken a break, and for someone telling me that I can't do something that I've been doing my entire life -- I mean, it's heartbreaking, and it stinks," Lochte tells Ellen DeGeneres bluntly. "But, you know, I definitely know there is so much more I want accomplish in the sport of swimming, so I do know that I'm still going to be training, and when I do come back, I'm going to definitely be a better swimmer and a better person."
Lochte reveals he sought the advice of fellow Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, who went through his own low point in 2014, when USA Swimming suspended Phelps for six months after he was arrested for driving under the influence.
"I reached out to him because I knew he hit a low point in his life and he bounced back from it, and I knew his answer was gonna be really honest because of our relationship over the years," Lochte explains. "And he said, 'It's not what you did, it's what you do now that will shape who you are,' and I took that to heart, and you know, that’s what I'm gonna do."
"I'm gonna better myself," he adds. "[I'm going to] make sure I don't make those mistakes and become a better person."
As for his new gig on Dancing With the Stars, Lochte reiterates that he signed up for the show a month before his Rio scandal. He admits that he thought about dropping out, but reconsidered after talking to family and friends.
"I reached the lowest point of my entire life that I never thought I would go to," Lochte shares. "I was in a really dark place and I didn't know if I should come out, just hide my entire life, but I reached to my family and my friends, and they kept me positive and said, 'You know, you have to do this. You have to get out there. You can't always hide the rest of your life, just embrace this opportunity,' so that's why I'm here."
Lochte's appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show airs Monday.
"I love working with athletes because of their work ethic and determination, and, you know, Ryan has really come in here and been vulnerable toward this whole process, which is the best thing you can do," Burke said. "I mean, especially as a man, like, wearing the sequins and the heels and the tight shirts and pants. You kind of have to just let it go, and have fun with this whole process. He's a hard worker and he wants to do well."