Fourteen-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps says swimming records will be broken at the London Games, even without high-tech suits.
Phelps won a record eight gold medals in Beijing four years ago in an Olympics that produced 25 world records, including seven by the American in Speedo’s LZR Racer suit.
Forty-three world records fell at the 2009 world championships in Rome. FINA, swimming’s governing body, banned the high-tech bodysuits beginning in 2010 after swimmers and officials said they may artificially boost performance.
“It doesn’t matter, if somebody wants a record it’s going to be broken,” Phelps said in an interview yesterday in London. “You’re probably going to see a couple. I don’t know if they’ll be from me. I don’t know who they’ll be from, but you can see fast times.”
Phelps begins his seven-event Olympic program on July 28 in the 400-meter individual medley at the Aquatics Centre.
Brendan Hansen, a two-time relay gold medalist for the U.S., said he is pleased the era of the speed suits is over.
“The spotlight draws back to the athletes, which is important,” Hansen said in an interview. “May the best swimmer win. It’s not like, ‘Oh, should I be wearing that suit?’ Which was what was going a lot through the minds of the athletes in the last Olympics.”
Phelps was beaten by teammate Ryan Lochte in the 400 medley at last month’s U.S. swimming trials. The two friends prefer to play cards instead of talking about their sport when they socialize, Phelps said.
“When we’re away from the pool, we’re away from the pool,” said Phelps, who wore a dark-blue hoodie as temperatures rose to 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit). “Then it’s time to sort of get away from everything and relax. The biggest thing we both know is if you’re swimming so many events you do have one race and you have to put that behind no matter what happens.”
Phelps said he’s expecting a “tough week emotionally” in his fourth Olympics, which he has said will be his last.
“There are a lot of memories that I’ve had over the last 20 years and there are a lot of special moments that I’ve had thanks to swimming,” he said. “It’s going to be a tough week. The biggest thing I need to focus on is my emotional energy and how I use it through the week because I’m going to need a lot of it to get through.”
Phelps said he has a big support group coming from the U.S., including his mother, friends from elementary school and high school, former roommates and folks from his hometown of Baltimore.
Phelps, whose 14 Olympic gold medals are the most in history, will compete in four individual events -- the 100- and 200-meter butterfly and the 200- and 400-meter individual medley -- and make himself available for the three relays.
He’s won 16 Olympic medals in all, two short of the record held by Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina.
Phelps, who turned 27 this month, said he’s not having second thoughts about quitting the sport.
“There are other things I want to do,” he said. “I’m ready. The biggest thing that I’ll always stand by is that I won’t swim past the age of 30 and that’s something I just don’t want.”
To contact the reporters on this story: Danielle Rossingh in London at firstname.lastname@example.org; Tariq Panja in London at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at firstname.lastname@example.org