Mesa, AZ, United States (4E Sports) – Bemedalled Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps explained his decision to come out of retirement, saying he’s not doing it for the money but for himself.
“I’m doing this for me,” said Phelps, who won 22 medals, four more than anyone in modern Olympic history and nine more than the next closest active Olympian, Norwegian biathlete Ole Bjorndalen.
“If I don’t become as successful as you think I would or should be, that’s your own opinion. I enjoy being in the pool and sport of swimming and having fun with what I’m doing,” added Phelps, who returned to competitive swimming Thursday at the Arena Grand Prix as part of his preparation for the 2016 Olympics.
According to coach Bob Bowman, Phelps is much happier doing the training since returning to consistent workouts at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club in November.
The 6-4 Phelps has slimmed down from 225 pounds to his current 194, not that far off his 187 pounds at the London Olympics.
“Nobody is forcing me to do this or that,” Phelps said. “I want to be back in the water. Bob and I can do anything we put our mind to. That’s what we’ve done in the past. I’m looking forward to wherever this road takes me.”
The 28-year-old Phelps did not disappoint after recording the fastest qualifying time in his first race since the 2012 London Olympics.
Phelps finished the 100-meter butterfly in 52.84 seconds to win his heat at the Arena Grand Prix. He edged Ryan Lochte by .10 seconds for the top overall time out of 98 swimmers to make Thursday night’s final.
Phelps is also scheduled to compete in the 50-meter freestyle in Mesa, though he has pulled out of the 100 free. Three of Phelps’ record 18 Olympic gold medals came in the 100 fly.