22 Time Olympian Michael Phelps Ends His Retirement

April 15, 2014, the swimming world was hit with news that people around the world had been speculating for almost two years: Michael Phelps is officially coming out of retirement and is (hopefully) planning to make a run for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.  Phelps’ is swimming in his first meet since the 2012 Olympic Games next weekend, April 24-26, in Mesa, Arizona at the Mesa Grand Prix (SwimSwam.com).

The Mesa Grand Prix is one of six stops in the Arena Grand Prix Series where swimmers who meet eligibility requirements are able to compete for up to $150,000 in prize money as well as a one-year lease of a new BMW (USASwimming.org).  At these meets, swimmers score points based on what they place: a gold medal in the event counts for 5 points in the series as well as $500, a silver medal counts for 3 points and $300, and a bronze counts for one point and $100 dollars (USASwimming.org).   Points are added up for each swimmer throughout the series and the male and female swimmer with the highest amount of points at the end of the series win the BMW lease as well as the prize money from the meets.

At 28 years old, Michael Phelps is already a 22 time Olympic medalist—the most decorated Olympian of all time.  At the 2008 Olympic games, which is considered Phelps’ best career Olympics, Phelps overcame the record set by Mark Spitz for the most first-place finishes at any single Olympic Games (ESPN Sports).

So what makes Michael Phelps’ comeback so interesting to those of us who are wrapped up in the swimming world?  Many people are wondering whether or not Phelps will be able to perform as well as he did before his retirement.  For his first meet back since his retirement, Phelps will only be swimming three events, the 50 and 100-meter freestyle as well as the 100 butterfly, which is an abnormally different mixture of races than the Olympian is used to.  Bob Bowman, in an interview with The Associated Press said, “I think [Phelps] is just going to test the waters a little bit and see how it goes” (ABC News).  Because of his official retirement, Phelps first had to re-enter the USA swimming drug testing pool and wait six months in order to compete again (NY Daily News).  This means that Phelps has been training under the radar for at least six months.

Many people are speculating whether or not Phelps’ return to the pool will hurt his image if he fails to reach all of his goals.  While he will probably not be able to compete as well or as much as he used to, there is nothing the superstar swimmer can lose by coming back to the sport.  Jessica Hardy, a fellow Olympian was quoted saying, “Even if he’s not at peak performance, it’s great for the sport and each athlete particularly to keep learning from him.  I don’t think anyone wants to put pressure on him.  He’s accomplished everything you pretty much can” (NY Daily News).  So whether or not he wins more medals in Rio, or just swims in order to stay in shape and have fun, Michael Phelps will no doubt shine a light on the sport of swimming that no one has ever seen before—and I can’t wait to see it.










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