America’s favorite Olympian is returning to competitive swim. It seems as if winning 22 medals, 18 of them gold, has left this competitive athlete to wonder if his time is really up.
Rumors have floated around for months that Michael Phelps was planning a comeback. It was considered very odd that, in November, Phelps re-registered for the United States Anti-Doping Agency to become eligible for the World Championships in 2015. Until last week, no proof stood to confirm these rumors.
Phelps announced last week that his first competitive meet will be at the end of April at the Arena Grand Prix in Arizona. He is expected to compete in the 50, 100 freestyle as well as the 100 butterfly.
Since the start of his retirement after the London Olympics in 2012, Phelps has taken up golf and starred on reality T.V. show “The Haney Project.” Like many athletes before him who have retired and taken up golf, Phelps has proven to be a poor golfer. When not on the golfing range, Phelps has been found occasionally in the pool swimming 3,000 meters to help manage his weight.
During his retirement, Phelps has been seen on the side lines as a commentator. In Barcelona, he seemed really upset with the United States 400 freestyle relay team receiving second behind France. Rowdy Gaines, chief fundraiser for USA swimming, told the New York times that he generally looked “ticked off” and said “that I could have done that right now without even training.”
Since the announcement to come out of retirement, a question has been raised: is Phelps too old to still be competitive in the pool? Phelps will be 30 in June. Payton Manning is about a decade older then Phelps and is holding his own still in the NFL. Lebron James is also older then Phelps and is competing in the NBA at a high level and is arguably one of the best players in the game today. If Phelps really wants it, he, too, can compete at the Olympic level.
Phelps will use the meet in Arizona as a gauging point. His coach, Bob Bowman, told the New York Times, “We’ll have to see how he feels about it.” He will either put to bed the notion of a full-blown comeback or decide that it’s time to keep training and make a push for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Bowman also commented on how Phelps is doing, “He likes the fitness component. And once he’s in shape, he likes the racing component.”
Phelps has been training with the young upcoming start, Yannick Angel, and will be able to see exactly where the benchmark for swimming has been set. Phelps’ American rival, Ryan Lochte, will also be swimming in Arizona.
Whether Phelps’ return to the competitive swim is short-lived or a full-blown campaign to get back to the Olympics, Phelps is still the man to beat and he brings new excitement to the sport.