ORMOND BEACH, Fla. – It was a 12-hour trip back home. Ryan Lochte getting off the plane from L.A. at 11 a.m. to get right into the pool at the Ormond Beach Family YMCA, taking off his dancing shoes and putting on a swim cap for a good cause after a summer of bad press.
"I'm glad I'm back. It feels amazing. My legs are a little sore," Lochte said laughing. "I never thought dancing would make me this tired."
The 12-time Olympic medalist was participating in a fundraising event called "The Rematch After Rio," getting back in the pool for the first time since the 2016 Summer Games to raise money for the Volusia Flagler Family YMCA and the Stewart-Marchman-ACT Foundation.
Part of that fundraiser was a race in a relay with other young swimmers against three-time U.S. Masters swimming world-record holder Charlie Lydecker, while three-time Olympic gold medalist Rowdy Gaines provided commentary.
Kasey Dragstedt's daughter, Noelle, was one of 17 kids swimming alongside Lochte.
"She was telling her friends in first grade that she is swimming with an Olympian and she's going to be in a magazine," said Kasey Dragstedt. "I mean, the girl is excited."
But after Lochte's stunts this summer, which led to not only charges of filing a false robbery report but also a new 10-month suspension from USA swimming, News 6 asked Dragstedt if she feels Lochte is still a good role model for her daughter.
"In swimming? I do," Dragstedt said. "That has stirred up controversy but we do explain to our kids that we all make mistakes. He's definitely something to be proud of, he has still worked very hard and he shouldn't be identified as someone who made a really big mistake. He should just be identified as a really great swimmer."
Lochte addressed what happened in Rio and his suspension.
"You know it's out of my control, whatever they decide I'm going to go with it," Lochte said. "I know what I did and I'm just going to better myself each day and keep moving forward and stay positive."
No only stay positive for himself but stay positive as role model to the kids he swam next to Wednesday night and the millions more who have dreams of one day being an Olympian.
"I remember when I was their age. I was a little kid looking up to other Olympians saying I want to be just like them, so I mean it's never too early to start dreaming. If they have that drive and determination, they can accomplish anything. I'm just trying to move on and move forward. I'm putting that all behind me and now I'm on 'Dancing with the Stars' and it's a new opportunity for me and I'm excited."
Lochte told News 6 he is only in town for 12 hours, heading back to L.A. early Thursday morning.