Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian ever, is coming out of retirement to swim at a meet in Mesa, Ariz., on April 24-26.
The meet will be his first competitive meet since the 2012 London Olympics, where he won the last of his 18 golds and 22 medals overall — a staggering total no one else comes close to.
Bob Bowman, the swimmer’s longtime coach, told The Associated Press on Monday that Phelps is entered in three events — the 50- and 100-meter freestyles and the 100 butterfly. Phelps’ camp is remaining low-key about the comeback, refusing even to acknowledge it’s the first step toward competing at the 2016 Rio Games although everyone knows Phelps wouldn’t be going to all this trouble (drug testing, training five days a week) if he wasn’t preparing for the only meet that really matters.
By taking that approach, Phelps has left himself with plenty of wiggle room should his comeback fail to meet his own incredibly high standards. Rest assured, he doesn’t want to wash out like others who came out of retirement, including fellow swimmers Ian Thorpe and Janet Evans. Both attempted to qualify for the London Olympics and didn’t make it past their national trials, a sad epitaph to their brilliant careers.
Bowman insisted nothing can take away from Phelps’ impact on the sport, no matter what happens over the next week or month or two years.
“His legacy is sealed,” Bowman said.