I’m going to use [the delay] as my advantage and I'll be ready," he said. 

Ryan Lochte
Ryan Lochte
| Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Ryan Lochte may have been devastated that the 2020 Olympics were canceled earlier this year due to COVID-19, but months after what was slated to be a major comeback for the swimming icon, he's looking on the bright side as he trains for the rescheduled games less than a year away.

"It was like someone took a knife and just stabbed me in my back," he told Travel + Leisure in a recent interview of the cancellation in Tokyo. "I was training for two and a half years for the Olympics, and them saying, 'No, it's going to be the following summer,' I was a little heartbroken." 

Lochte, 36, who has 12 Olympic medals, would have been participating in his fifth Olympics had the games gone on as planned in 2020. For now, he's maintaining his training schedule, and if anything, upping the ante as he's gotten more time to prepare.

"I started thinking more positive like, 'You know what? I get an extra year of training. I get an extra year of getting smarter in and out of the pool,'" he said, adding that his training schedule is "a full-time job" with about 30 to 40 hours of work per week. "It's grueling, but it's going to be worth it in the end." 

When he's not training, he's spending time with his wife, Kayla, with whom he celebrated two years of marriage last month, and their kids, Caiden, 3, and Liv, 1.

"I'm loving it — I’m staying at home more, and I get to play with my kids more often," he said of quarantining at home in Gainsville, Florida. "The stuff they do on a daily basis, [it's like] I have a mini-me." 

And when he's not playing with his kids or training, he's involved in various business ventures with fitness brands and Piñata, a rewards app for those renting apartments.

Still, even though the summer of 2021 seems far off, he hasn't lost sight of his goal for the gold.

"I'm going to become a better athlete when the time comes. I’m going to use [the delay] as my advantage and I'll be ready," he said. 

Christine Burroni is Travel + Leisure’s Digital News Editor. Find her keeping up with just about everything on Twitter or see what she’s up to in NYC or on her latest trip on Instagram.