Michael Phelps Redux
by Terry Laughlin

Posted on April 15th, 2014

Yesterday’s news included an item that quickened the pulses of quite a few swim fans–and probably  USA Swimming honcho’s too. Michael Phelps is returning to competitive swimming. Mind you, there was no mention of Rio 2016, only that he ‘ll race  at an Arena Grand Prix meet in Mesa Arizona next week.

In the article Phelps is Back–and at  His Age, Why Not New York Times writer Christopher Clary  noted that Phelps, at 28, is younger than Lebron James, and should he swim in Rio will be only 31, younger than Roger Federer is now.

But as Clary also noted  “In the pool, he has very little, if anything, left to prove, which might not be best in a sport where the training is arduous and repetitive enough to require extreme motivation.”

Phelps NYT

Phelps earned enough from the 22 Olympic medals he already owns that–barring bad investments (he’s a part owner of  Meadowbrook Aquatic Club in Baltimore, the facility where he trains) he should be able to live comfortably the rest of his days.

So what’s his motivation?  I suspect it’s mainly his undimmed competitive drive. While  a few additional Olympic medals would do relatively little to enhance the luster of the legacy he’s already created, it’s probably harder than he realized it would be to sit on the sidelines and watch others lead the world rankings with times he may feel he could match even without ‘arduous and repetitive training.’

If do hope that Phelps finds that motivation, and that, rather than extreme, it’s the  satisfaction any of us can gain from doing something we love at the highest level possible each time we practice. If he does, the  results of any races he swims will  almost be besides the point.

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3 Responses to “Michael Phelps Redux”

  1. Donal says:

    I’ve read that Phelps feels he has to swim 3000m several times a week to keep his weight down. I’m sure that he wants to race a bit to drive his practices, but I wonder if he’s ready for the full grind. With Yannick Agnel, Allison Schmitt. Conor Dwyer, and Chase Kalisz, Bowman will have a lot of talent to coach with or without Phelps. Even watching the younger NBAC swimmers in the next lanes is a humbling experience for me.

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  2. Donal Some day soon I must come join you for a swim in those adjacent lanes.

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  3. Donal says:

    Terry, You are welcome any time.

    I ran across an article claiming that fellow elites knew he was training again and thus were not surprised at all:

    http://kgmi.com/news/030030-phelpss-return-to-swimming-shrugged-off-by-fellow-olympians/

    For what it is worth, a commenter in another article claims that a Phelps ex told him that Michael is definitely aiming for Brazil.

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