With the London 2012 Summer Olympics drawing close, The Huffington Post caught up with swimmer Michael Phelps, who with 16 medals, is now just three Olympic medals away from breaking the all-time record of former Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina. Phelps, 26, recently announced his upcoming retirement and that 2012 will be his third and final Olympiad. Leading up to the games, Phelps is playing a significant role in Visa's Go World campaign. And, with 14 gold medals to his name already, the Baltimore native already has most of any Olympic athlete ever.
How are you feeling?
I mean I'm excited. Over the last couple years, I haven't really been as prepared as I want to be. Being able to find the fire and passion again, and I guess finding something that excites me is something that will hopefully turn into better performance over the next couple months, and that I'll be able to be happy at the end of my career.
You had debated not participating in London for quite some time. What ultimately made you want to swim again?
It's hard to pinpoint one thing; I knew I always had goals and things I wanted to accomplish, but I think the biggest thing was just being able to find that passion back again. Once I found it, it was easy for me to go to work out. I wanted to go and I wanted to try and achieve my goals. I'm glad I was able to find and it was something that I could only find myself. Nobody could force me to find that.
Is there one event come London that you don't feel especially confident going into?
I think for right now, when we go into trials, we're going to swim the events that we feel most confident with. We're not going to have an event that we're second guessing or not really sure how it's going to go. Once we swim every event there, we're going to pretty much know.
How many events are you planning to swim in London?
I won't be doing eight again; who knows how many? It just depends what kind of shape I'm in at that point and what I think my body can handle under those circumstances.
With the swimming events completed early, are you able to enjoy the Olympic experience?
In Beijing, I was able to watch a couple basketball games, but I had so much to do after it was hard to really do a bunch of stuff. Now, who knows; after this, I don't really have anything that I'm preparing for. Maybe I will be able to enjoy it a little bit more, just have fun and relax.
Your mother has been quoted saying she wants to attend the 2016 Olympics with you in Rio. Will you be able to actually go and just be a regular fan?
Yeah, I think it'll be fun; seeing the sport from the deck is different than being on the block. Being able to be in the stands and enjoying everything about the Olympic atmosphere is something I am hoping to do.
What will Michael Phelps be doing one year from now?
Well, I want to first take time for myself and be able to relax, have a vacation and have some fun. Another thing is I have a passion for working with kids, so being able to work with my foundation more. My swim school is something I know will be fun for me. Being able to have that genuine smile on my face I think is something you see a lot, but more around kids than anything else.
Drowning is the second highest fatality factor for youth in America. How important is your foundation and helping children learn to swim?
I will be retiring, but that's from my competitive side of the sport. There are still other things I want to do that don't necessarily have anything to do with me competing, whether it's teaching a kid how to swim or teaching kids how to set goals or to live healthy and active lifestyles. That's something that I feel is very important. If I can help them accomplish their goals and dreams, it's a pretty special feeling.
What about you? Your workout schedule is going to take a drastic turn, right?
I don't know; it's going to be weird.
And how about your eating habits?
It's going to be different for me to not have five hours of working out in my schedule every single day, so there will be some things I have to change. I want to be able to golf some more and I know that there is flexibility and strength you still need for that. I see myself taking a couple months off but not completely letting go.
You are also famous for consuming 10,000 calories per day. Are you going to continue eating that much?
No; I don't eat that much today and I definitely won't be able to do it when I'm done swimming.
Check out photos of Michael Phelps visiting New York City below.
Email me at email@example.com or ask me questions about anything sports-related @206Child.