Michael Phelps Back In Testing Pool; Golf, Rio ’16, Perhaps

Michael Phelps [photo: USA Swimming]

As first predicted by Ryan Lochte, Michael Phelps is making a comeback. The winner of 22 Olympic medals, 18 of them gold, is back in the USADA testing pool. That much was obvious when silence, ball-passing and illogical phrases flowed from FINA and USA Swimming last week. But what is the aim: golf at Rio 2016? “If I decide to keep going and swim again, then I’ll compete. If I don’t, I guess I’ll re-retire. Just don’t compare me to Brett Favre” – Michael Phelps

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As first predicted by Ryan Lochte, Michael Phelps is making a comeback. The winner of 22 Olympic medals, 18 of them gold, is back in the USADA testing pool. That much was obvious when silence, ball-passing and illogical phrases flowed from FINA and USA Swimming last week. But what is the aim: golf at Rio 2016? “If I decide to keep going and swim again, then I’ll compete. If I don’t, I guess I’ll re-retire. Just don’t compare me to Brett Favre” – Michael Phelps


Not necessarily so.

Boring. The worst thing about this is that fame is addictive. They will be doing this stuff in some form or other their entire lives.

What else is happening in the world besides these people ? Be they ex stars of the small or big screen , Tony Blair etc they just can’t let go.

The sadder side of modern humanity. This epidemic will need its own speciality at the next American psychiatrists symposium.


Lane Four

Whatever Michael’s reasons are, they are his and I back him 100%.


I can see him gunning for the 100 fly fourpeat and then swimming the 100 free (plus possible sprint and medley relays).


If he does come back I don’t he’s doing it for fame or money, he already has that and every Olympics for the next 20 years he’ll be a major focus in marketing endorsements.

I think he’s simply leaving the door open for return. In the US he isn’t going to get much more popular that what he is now. Swimming is a minor sport in the US and people outside the sport think of Michael Phelps and only Michael Phelps when swimming brought up in conversation. Only those who closely follow the sport in the US know the likes of Lochte or any of the other current greats from around the globe.

Bill Bell

You don’t think he’d give an arm,a leg and perhaps other body parts too y
To kick Le Clos’ you know what up one side of the pool and down the other in BOTH flys @ Kazan AND Rio?

I dare say that’s all he’s been thinking about sinceLondon — unfinished business.

But at age 30 at Kazan and 31 at Rio won’t be easy — especially since the London200 fly champ’ll be in the prime of his career.

And Lochte ain’t getting any younger either!

Craig Lord

Lane Four: yes, quite so – that’s the only thing that truly matters – his right to self-determination (which won’t stop a great deal of opinion and judgment far and wide, of course 🙂

Not necessarily so.

The ‘right to self determination’ is usually reserved for a peoples’ struggle for a political path of their own as against being a subset of another’s.

Now it is for former sports stars pondering how to keep in the public eye.


Craig Lord

Not Nec So: I see what you’re getting at but I think those things are on a spectrum along the same theme – we are all entitled to self-determination within the bounds of law, it doesn’t have to be a political or social struggle for things people are entitled to in places where the law is an ass. Spectrums like I’m a swimmer just as Phelps is … but not quite the same thing 🙂 It may also be the case that Phelps is driven right now by things beyond public attention and money, such as the need to honour his talent and ambition in a fresh way. We don’t yet know what he has in mind. Whatever it is, he has a right to choose, to determine what he does with his life, regardless of what any of us out here may think of it – that’s all I was getting at in that reply to Lane Four. Best, C


Craig.. I agree that Phelps has the right to choose.. but especially on sports and public media.. he will be wide open for a media slaughter assault (and I won´t play the nice respectful guy.. people want to see “blood” and will remind him of his latest endeavors, and if needed will start questioning how “valid” is his part results).. If he goes to the pool.. and fail on his results.. his image as GOAT will suffer a lot because of that..

2012 we saw a bit of that.. when he did not medal on 400IM some questions started to arise, that were “confirmed” on 200 fly against Le Clos, but he backed up his position on 100 fly and 200 IM.. but if on 2016 he does not get a single gold medal.. he will suffer a media and public opnion assault.

Craig Lord

Maybe so but a little premature all of that… we have no idea what he intends yet … could be golf or just relays, or neither … and when we do know, any judgment could only follow performance. I’m happy to wait to see what happens before even thinking of calling him a king or a clown, or crying “thrill” or “bore” 🙂


I am not calling.. but is something he needs to think for himself (if he cares of what the media thinks).. but he will have to live up with speculations till 2016.. 2014 will be the trials for 2015 right? There will being his “trial”.. and some people say no one has the right to comments on his choices or his results.. but when you become a “media guy” you will have to live with it..

If he returns.. I would think he would bet on 100 fly.. and the relays.. and will focus all on this..


Comebacks rarely end well – for every Geoff Huegill there’s ten Ian Thorpes. However if anyone was going to do it properly, it’d be Phelps…


I think if the USA lose Duel in the pool it’ll be another push for him to go back into the pool i think right now hes just keeping his options open


“Not Necessarily So” and “Craig Lord”: Are you guys high? Come down off your high horse. You are commenting for a publication called Swim Vortex, for heavens sake. Phelps is a guy who wants to return to his previous career. THAT’s ALL! This isn’t a treatise on the state of civilization.


I actually predicted that Phelps would make a comeback before Lochte did.

I made the prediction in the swimmingworld site when Phelps rumour of retiring was not even clear yet.


people who don’t think Phelps would make comeback is a little bit delusional methinks.


Phelps will surely never he able to rebuild his peak middle-distance conditioning, but sprinters have made the best comebacks and Phelps himself was able to keep his hundred pace pretty well when not in the best shape. The 100 fly has somewhat stalled as an event since the heyday of the Phelps/Crocker rivalry, and Phelps can probably get back into that sub-51 shape pretty quickly – particularly if he’s not trying to condition for events further than 100m, and can concentrate more on his speed.


Felix.. but phelps will face a top level Le Close who will probably already be sub-51 by 2014 2015 on any major event…

And even Phelps did not really break Crocker record.. one of the oldest textile WR..

Craig Lord

guest: the only one on a high horse in this whole discussion so far appears to be you … the rest of us are just exchanging views and don’t need you to tell us what the platform is

Craig Lord

aswimfan: I think Ryan was first in his prediction post Michael’s decision being made official (in fact, Ryan spoke in a mixed zone straight after Michael’s confirmation … understandable that he’d get in first – he’s a little closer to the subject than the rest of us 🙂


Ohh Phelps please dont do it 🙁 , we like you the way you left, as The Champ.


Rafael, that’s certainly true. Phelps never beat Crocker’s textile time, but they both went well under 51 a long time ago, and still no one else has done it.

I’m really not as certain as many others that Le Clos will be sub-51 performer, and I don’t see him going much under it. The semifinal swim Phelps put in at London 2012 with very little rest after the 200 IM final, will probably be faster than Le Clos ever swims. He should be able to get back to that pace.


felix.. Le Clos went 51.06 at bcn with his nasty habit (looking to the side a lot) and he still is not at his peak… Phelps 50.86 is not a lot ahead…

Lane Four

So if Michael truly is returning, does he have a sufficient amount of time to get to the time standard he must be at in order to compete for medals? The last thing I want to see is a replay of what happened with Thorpe.

Craig Lord

Lane Four: By Rio, if he wants it, yes (he wasn’t away nearly as long as Thorpe had been)… by next summer… ?


best news for swimming !! the sport needs phelps, be it on deck for sponsor promotion or even better in the pool to widen the audience numbers !!

I hate people who spit on him, say he should stay where he is, …

have you only considered that maybe he just love the sport so much he wants to swim again ? !! it’s not all about money and fame in this world you know !! he is already the most mediatized swimmer we’ll ever see. He has money, he is respected beyond many other top athletes so maybe yes he just does indeed love swimming !

Anywayz, YES people and the media should be respectful and yes he made swimming so much bigger, he averted a huge crisis (by standing up even late to combat hightec suits), he never was even tarnished by rumours of doping and he promotes the sport as far and wide as he possibly can ! plus he is a great role model for kids !! (even though he had a few slipups but who has never made mistakes ??) so YEs he deserves respect for his role in swimming !

So yeah great news for sport
and to the ones complaining, if you want to go back to what the sport was 12 years ago, before michael than it’s your choice but stay there, swimming is good where it is now, and we don’t need ungrateful people to promote the sport !! I’m sure Chad himself would love to see the king in lane 5 next to him in Rio. Whoever wins that would be one for the ages !!



Lochte may be the first famous and important person to make that prediction, but I had done the prediction already in swimmingworld/swiminfo and swimswam sites even before Phelps’ made his retirement official. And when I made that prediction, many hurled abuse and cynical remarks at me.

Phelps is arguably the most competitive person on earth, and knowing how/what kind of person like that, there is no way he would pass up the chance to even become the absolute unique greatest swimmer ever with 4 straight peat in 100 fly/200 IM not to mention the fact that he would be missing the adrenaline rush of swimming races and winning them. Golf is just not the same. No, it’s not about the money for him (well, maybe a little), but it is that competition and records that engulf and envelope him.

Remember that this is the same Phelps who made breaking Spitz record as his a must goal even when he was still 15-16. People just do not lose their trait along with their random retirement.


Belgium kangaroo,

“he averted a huge crisis “by standing up even late to combat hightec suits)”

Sorry, Phelps is great, but Phelps was only against the hightech suits when he lost to Biedermann. Also, technically, it was not Phelps, it was Bowman who threatened to not enter Phelps in swimming competition if FINA does not repeal rubber suit after Phelps was beaten by Biedermann in Rome.

I did not hear Phelps complained about rubber suit when he wore it to 8 golds in Beijing.


Lane Four,

Phelps situation is different from Thorpe.

Thorpe had already retired for more than 5 years when he announced his come back. Also, during that 5 years, Thorpe absolutely did not care about his fitness level (did you see how fat he was during his come back official announcement?), and Thorpe only had a little more than one year between his return and the Australian trials.

It has now just been only 1 year since 2012 London, and during that time, Phelps has been keeping his fitness very well. I am sure his return will be a lot more successful, and I think he will target 100 free/fly along with all three relays.


I think he will go for the 100 fly.. for 100 free.. he may try that on some other competition (Pan Pacs maybe) before deciding to go for it at the olympics… he will probably need to beat his textile best to even final on that event on 2016.. I would not be surprised if all 8 finalists are sub-48 guys..


Rafael, the bcn 100 final was not like the 200 with exaggerated looks to the side from Le Clos, more a couple of glances within the bounds of standard side-breathing technique. I may be wrong, but I don’t see him as someone with the potential for much more speed, and we never know when someone’s peak is – many swimmers, particularly flyers, don’t improve.

The event needs some top class pure sprinters. It was interesting when it was one middle distance guy taking on the sprinter, but for a while Phelps was obscuring an almost full separation between the 100 and 200 at elite level. At several major champs he was the only person in both finals. To get back down to the mid 50s we need some proper speed men to come through.

Lane Four

Thank you aswimfan and Craig! Good perspectives.

Not necessarily so.

I never said he could not or should not return. I just gotta get in contact with mr Warhol . I am extending it to 15 trillion minutes .

Craig Lord

aswimfan.. you’ll have to forgive me on my views on predictions. I agree with your thoughts on drive and nature though I think it right to point out that at this stage we simply don’t know what he has in mind (and it could well be that he has not yet set the goal … but is simply responding to that inner nature you describe)

On predictions, please don’t misunderstand me – i have no problem in people wishing to leave comments far and wide without using their own identity and name – but I handle such things with my media hat on, and in those terms what someone called “Ryan Lochte” has to say about Phelps and his future is the line worth reporting. If you tell me that ‘aswimfan’ is Bob Bowman, Debbie Phelps, Frank Busch etc, you’re prediction makes the headline and goes down in the history book 🙂

As a journalist, however, I would never report “Fredswam” predicted X on Y… and so claims to being first to do X and Y are not only less significant than what Lochte had to say but apt to be one of many such claims. I think the first prediction I heard about what would happen to Phelps post 2008 was in Athens 2004 (there was talk of how many Gams he would make even in Barcelona 2003) on the media bench. Each passing season has seen similar comments come and go, some of them published: post 2008 Games, there was a column in L’Equipe, for example, that predicted Phelps would retire, come back in time for 2012 – and if he didn’t, he would hang on until 2012 and then retire … but not forever… I also wrote post-2008 in The Times that while Phelps said he would not swim beyond 30, we could expect him to stick to that like Sir Steve Redgrave stuck to his stance (if anyone sees me in a boat, shoot me … he did get back in a boat and thankfully no-one shot him 🙂 … and it was not unreasonable to think of the swimmer racing in 2016.

Even so, Lochte is the man we will all quote … and if the story is correct, the on who will bank $10,000 as a result of his prediction 🙂


Michael Phelps has always maintained that he wanted to do something FOR the sport of swimming beyond the medals/money syndrome.

If this really IS a comeback, what better way than to be 30+ years old at Rio — AND to have a gold medal around your neck? I find the whole thing quite inspirational.

Swimming, unlike some other sports, is brutally fair — you do/don’t make the time in the place with the stroke you’ve chosen — or else you lose, period. Michael has shown an uncanny ability to ‘get his hand on the wall’ — as we’ve all seen and marveled at. I don’t think he’ll ever lose that quality — it’s in his genes.

And, let us not forget that with WADA tightening its rules (somewhat) Phelps can help with giving a more ‘high profile’ quality to the ‘COMPETE CLEAN’ campaign.

Life is not over when you turn 30, folks – I’ll see YOU in Rio and, probably Michael Phelps, too!

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