Michael Phelps is tired of the Aquaman references. And he’s tired of being asked about the Rio Olympics. Fresh from attending the ESPYs on Wednesday, he arrived at Lake Tahoe, NV today for a little golf, and was whisked into the press room at the American Century Championship Celebrity Tournament.
So what was the first question he was asked?
TOURNEY PUBLICITY DIRECTOR PHIL WEIDINGER: “Let’s start this off. You’ve had a few months off. Are you thinking about Rio a few years from now?”
PHELPS: “I mean, really? We’re starting off with that question? Come on guys.”
Phelps seemed genuinely perturbed. Weidinger seemed taken aback, but he is officially my hero. Now I won’t have to sit through endless questions about Phelps’ approach game and Hank Haney and other boredom. We get right to the meat of the matter first thing.
PHELPS: “I signed my retirement papers in London, and there are no plans. I’m enjoying my life away from swimming, and I’m finding life is very challenging: more so than when I was swimming, actually.”
Notice the way that Phelps swam around the question: the same way he’s done it every time he’s been asked the ‘R’ thing for the past year. He won’t come out and say “I’m retired, it’s final, so stop asking. I no longer get wet.” Saying “There are no plans” is not the same thing. Right now I have no plans to eat that entire bag of mini-donuts. But as the foremost authority on myself, I know that it could happen, soon, and probably will.
Phelps did come as close as he’s ever come to finally declaring retirement, however, a few moments later. It’s bizarre question time!
UNKNOWN REPORTER: “Lake Tahoe is 12 miles wide. How long would it take you to swim it?”
PHELPS: (Thoughtfully). “Let’s see. That’s about 19,000 meters (thinks) … eight hours. (Laughter). Six hours? I’m not very fast anymore. I don’t swim anymore.”
There you have it: Michael Phelps doesn’t swim. Not even a little. He also says he’s “picking and choosing what I eat”, which means he’s not calorie-binging like he did when he was training. Now it’s all about the golf.
“I was flying in last night from the ESPYs, sitting with Ray Allen and Ahmad, and all we talked about is golf,” Phelps said. “What I did in swimming means a lot to me. I’ve done things no one else has ever done. I have 22 medals, but that does not define who I am.
“I try not to get caught up in all of that. There’s so much more that I want to accomplish.”
Surely he doesn’t mean golf. Phelps was told that one Nevada sports book has his odds this weekend at 500-1.
PHELPS: “To win? It should be much higher than that.”
I’d say that the odds of him swimming in Rio are are much better.
Rick Chandler is at the American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament today through Saturday. This means that soon he will see the first teaming in the history of mankind of Michael Jordan, Jerry Rice and Larry the Cable Guy.