5 Lessons to Learn from Ryan Lochte at the London Olympics
Ryan Lochte is now the USA team superstar, thanks to his amazing win during the Men’s 400m Individual Medley. Winning gold was one thing, but destroying Michael Phelps in the process must have been a good feeling for this swimming superhero! And since I’m the philosophical type who can find life lessons in any event, I think college students have a lot to learn from Ryan Lochte as well.
1. When you dedicate your heart and soul, you can achieve.
Ryan Lochte was overshadowed by Michael Phelps all of the Beijing Olympics, but that didn’t stop him. His mind, heart, and soul was in the 2012 Olympics. What was the statement he kept saying?
This is my year. I know it. I feel it. I’ve train my butt off for four years. I feel it in my gut. This is my year, and there is no better way to start these Olympics.
- Ryan Lochte
With that mindset, he destroyed the competition and captured USA’s first gold medal of the Olympics in the 400m Individual Medley — just shy of defeating the world record (apparently, he lost a little focus because he was staring at the scoreboard too much).
What can we learn from Lochte here? When you focus your heart on a goal, with no distractions, you can definitely achieve it. Dedication is the key here. My goal my senior year of college was to make Dean’s List twice. I didn’t let anything get in my way (especially my social life, which is unfortunate). But I got the best GPA my senior year compared to any other year in college. It was a great feeling to have, exiting the college world.
2. Nothing worth achieving happens instantly.
Lochte didn’t get his gold medal just by practicing for 9 months after quitting for 2 years like Phelps did — he dedicated 4 years of his life to changing to a healthy lifestyle and practicing more and more. Unfortunately for me, 9 months sounds like a long time and 4 years sounds even longer. But you see the lesson I’m trying to get at here: you need to think long term with any of your choices.
You won’t just lose the freshman 15 like that — it takes an actual diet change and some regular exercise. You won’t become a model student just by studying for your final like a madman the night before — you actually need to put some work into the class the entire semester to get that A. And when you achieve that goal, all the work you put into it feels worthwhile (and if it’s on the world stage like Lochte was, you might get a little bit of international acclaim while you’re at it! #LochteNation! Woo!).
3. Losses are psychological, and you can channel it effectively.
You may not have known this, but Lochte lost to Phelps in the 200m and 400m individual medley 20 times over a period of 7 years. That’s a lot of defeats to handle for one person. Most swimmers would have walked into a psychological wall with a loss record like that, but not Lochte. He channeled the losses effectively in his training to take over as the world’s top swimmer.
This is applicable to your grades, especially your first semester/quarter in college. College academics are different from high school, even if you took AP classes. There isn’t as much homework to bolster your exam grades, and sometimes, the sheer size of lecture halls can be daunting. You might get disappointing results with your first midterm exams or essay grades, but don’t let that hurt your mentality for the remaining semester or year. Learn from your mistakes and change study habits accordingly, just like Lochte did with his swimming!
4. There is such a thing as too big a workload.
Not all people are as perfect as Phelps was in Beijing, pulling off an amazing 8 gold medals out of 8 events. You can see that with Lochte, who lost the lead in the men’s 400m relay to land the USA a silver medal instead of the coveted gold. That was a tough loss to swallow, but I am going to take the high road and blame it on his full Olympic program. With 2 200-meter freestyles races, then followed by the 400m relay, it’s a lot of pressure and energy — especially when you’re the anchor on the team!
Lochte’s excuse was that he didn’t get much sleep the night before and that he was weary from all those springs. Lesser individuals have had worse excuses for performing badly, and I find this to be a valuable lesson: you can definitely overbook yourself. Your gigantic workload can have a negative impact on your performance and your life. My senior year, I had an 18-credit workload and was working 2 jobs, on top of being the marketing director for NYU Stern’s International Business Journal, raising money for my Habitat for Humanity trip, and commuting a couple hours a day. I didn’t want to admit that I had too big a workload, but sometimes, you have to be honest with yourself. If your own life and performance is suffering, then it won’t be worth it in the end. Repeat it with me here: balance.
5. Even if you’re busy being serious, you still have time to be silly!
Despite the pressure, the entire USA Swimming Team still took the time to lift their (and the entire world’s) spirits by making a silly Call Me Maybe lip sync video:
Not only was everyone adorable in this video, it is a lesson that you need to laugh and be silly sometimes to ease the pressure! It makes life much more bearable, and it makes your college experience a million times more memorable. So take a page out of Lochte’s book here: be silly.