By David Rieder
BALTIMORE, Maryland, October 20. THE winningest Olympian in history made his way back to the news on Sunday when an Associated Press report indicated that Michael Phelps has been training part-time with his former coach. Bob Bowman told Paul Newberry of the AP that his former star pupil had come to the pool from time to time for workouts but has not returned to full-time training with the goal of swimming in the Olympics in three years.
Bowman, when asked to comment on Phelps’ current situation, told the AP, “He is occasionally training with the group to get back in shape.” The composition of the group has changed considerably in the 15 months since Phelps hung up his goggles following the London Olympics. Yannick Agnel joined the group this summer, shortly before he picked up a world title in the 200 free at the World Championships.
Conor Dwyer and Matt McLean each won a gold medal on the 800 free relay at the Olympics in London along with Phelps, and both now train in Baltimore. Denmark’s Lotte Friis, who won two silver medals at the World Championships, joined the group last month, as did recent North Carolina graduate Tom Luchsinger. Luchsinger won the U.S. National title in the 200 fly this past summer, taking advantage of a field that, for the first time in years, didn’t feature Phelps.
In addition to Bowman and assistant Eric Posegay, Kennan Robinson recently rejoined the coaching staff at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club with the title “Director of Athlete Services,” and he functions as the primary weights and dryland coach. Robinson worked with Bowman and Phelps during their time at Michigan and also from 2009-2012 in Baltimore. He returned to Michigan after the Olympics for a year but ended up back in Maryland.
Phelps would have plenty of time to jump back into training in time for the 2016 Olympics, but he does have a decision to make in the upcoming weeks. He will need to put his name back in the drug testing pool nine months in advance of his first competition. If Phelps has goals of swimming in the World Championships in 2015 in Kazan, Russia, he would have to qualify at the U.S. National Championships next summer, which begin on August 6. That means he has only until November 6 to announce his intentions. If he makes that decision later on, he will definitely have no opportunity to compete against the best in the world prior to 2016.
In the meantime, though, Phelps continues to play coy on his intentions. At the World Championships in Barcelona, Phelps refused to reveal his plans for a comeback, and he has continued to enjoy life in retirement. The AP reported that Phelps travelled to China late last week, where he watched the Golden State Warriors’ win over the Los Angeles Lakers in preseason NBA action.
Full text of Associated Press article on ESPN.