Apr 17, 2014

    Phelps' return no surprise to swimmers


    THE news that Michael Phelps was returning to the pool with an eye towards possibly participating at the 2016 Summer Olympics was greeted with a big yawn by fellow swimmers.

    While his un-retirement did indeed create a flurry of excitement in social media, those who know him best were not shocked by Monday's news.

    "I wasn't surprised," 17-year-old Olympic champion Katie Ledecky said. "The swimming world has known for a while that he's been training the past year so it wasn't too big of a surprise. I'm definitely excited that he's going to be swimming in Mesa."

    Phelps, 28, the most decorated Olympian of all time with a total of 22 medals, has not competed since the 2012 London Games. The Baltimore native will headline an April 24-26 meet in Mesa, Arizona, with fellow Olympians Ledecky and Ryan Lochte.

    The 18-time Olympic gold medallist returned to the United States Anti-Doping Agency registry over nine months ago and has been subject to out-of-competition testing.

    Dara Torres, a winner of 12 Olympic medals, is convinced he misses competing.

    "I have never seen anyone as competitive as me, except for Phelps," said the 47-year-old, who won her medals over five Olympics. "If you're a very competitive person, it's very tough to let that go."

    Torres, who competed against swimmers half her age as her career wound down, believes he will have to adjust his training for the Rio Games.

    "All the years he never took a break, it's going to be different for Michael," she said. "As far as recovery goes, it's going to be different but as far as him doing his best times, I don't think his age will be a factor.

    "It's human nature, that your body is used to doing something at a certain level when you're younger. The biggest thing for me, mentally, was understanding that I can't do what I used to do training-wise.

    "The hard part is knowing you can't do what the young kids are doing. You're older, you don't recover like you used to."