HindustanTimes Sat,20 Dec 2014
Phelps comes up for air, for the last time
London, August 07, 2012
First Published: 00:20 IST(7/8/2012)
Last Updated: 01:50 IST(7/8/2012)
Mighty and Majestic: A combination photo shows US swimmer Michael Phelps holding each of his eight gold medals at the Beijing Games.

On the first day of the rest of his life, Michael Phelps found old habits are hard to break. He popped out of bed around 6 in the morning on Sunday, as if it were another normal training session.

"I wish I could sleep a little longer," Phelps said.

"I've been used to getting up early the last 20 years. We're going to work on getting on a little different schedule."

Phelps can start sleeping later now. He can do whatever he wants. At 27, he ended his swimming career in London as the most decorated Olympian ever with 18 gold, twice as many as anyone else, and 22 medals overall. The only thing left to do is sign the retirement papers, which will remove him from the list of athletes who must undergo regular doping tests.

"I have not officially retired yet," Phelps said, "but very soon I will be signing those papers and it will be official."

Phelps isn't sure what he'll do next. There will definitely be plenty of traveling. Only this time he'll see more than just the bottom of pools and the inside of hotel rooms. He wants to work on his golf game, "the proper way, not just going out there taking a couple of hacks at a little white ball."

He might even take a trip to the beach, which was something he never wanted to do when he was swimming competitively. "If I go swimming any place, it will probably be in the ocean," Phelps said.

"I will actually enjoy getting in the water at the beach. I've been on a couple of vacations before, but I never wanted to get around water because I spent so much time in the water. Hopefully, I can jump in now and actually enjoy it."

For the most part, though, his retirement plans are a work in progress.

"I don't even know where to begin," Phelps said. "I'm just going to take it one step at a time, one day at a time.

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