"I think it was getting to a point in my life where I needed a change," Lochte shared with reporters during a US Swimming National Championships press conference this week, explaining that he checked himself into rehab and completed all the classes in an effort to get healthy, in part for his kids.
"Since Caiden and my new daughter Liv has been born, I have a new perspective on life and I’m definitely not the same person as I was," the swimmer said of his 2-year-old son and 1-month-old daughter, whom he shares with wife Kayla Rae Reid. "On a daily basis, I'm just trying to be the best version [of myself] that I can be."
"I've had a lot of ups and downs, as you guys all know because it's been so public," Lochte added with a laugh, referring to his history of scandals and legal drama. "But I'm just here to race and I have my [sights] set for 2020."
Lochte was later asked again about his decision to check himself into a six-week alcohol program last fall, and the swimmer explained, "I went there because I needed help."
"I need to change some things in my life. That’s what I went there for, and I came out a better man," he added.
When asked if he felt like he would be under pressure to prove himself to his fans after his suspension, Locthe said the only people who factor into his decision to return to the pool are his wife and kids.
"Right now, I'm not trying to prove anything to anyone. I'm doing this for me and my family," Lochte said, adding that his goal is to swim as well as he can, get to the Olympics to represent the nation, and finally, "hopefully getting on the podium there."
"I want to teach my children that if you have a dream and a goal and you work at it on a daily basis, day in and day out, that you can accomplish it and you achieve anything as long as you put your mind to it," the 34-year-old athlete and new dad explained.
"My life, I feel, is complete. Everything I ever wanted growing up was a beautiful wife and kids, and now I have that and I'm just so happy," he continued, later thanking his family for being his "backbone" and supporting him during these difficult few months.