Monday, April 14, 2014

Retirement is for People Over 50

News came out today that swimmer Michael Phelps - of Olympic fame, for those of you who don't follow that - has come out of retirement to compete a next week at a meet.

Of course, now all the speculation is that he will be looking to get himself ready for the Olympics in 2016. In a normal Olympian swimmer's regimen, the year following an Olympics is a light year. The world championships are held in the odd years, but Phelps often takes a year off (right after or the second year after the Olympics) anyway. As a result, he missed about as much hard-core training as he did following the Olympics in 2008.

The biggest change is his age. He will definitely not be the fastest swimmer in the pool, but his regimen and focus might be his strength. If he wants something, he can definitely take it. If he's not in it 100%, then he struggles.

There will be many great swimmers, but Phelps suffers from Tiger Woods-itis: if he isn't competing, swimming just isn't that interesting. Missy Franklin and Ryan Lochte gained popularity in 2012, but Franklin went back to school and Lochte ended up being portrayed like an idiot on reality TV. Phelps is a guy that will draw a crowd even if it's winter in northern Minnesota and there's not a swimming pool to be found.

I posted this earlier, but I was not at all surprised by this decision. Even though all questions about "retirement or Rio" were met with vague or short answers by Phelps, there was no way I thought he wouldn't compete. He will be 32 at the time of competition, which is some athletes' prime of life. He will have a long journey, but it's clear that swimming is his one true love, and it's not easy to walk away from that.

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