USA Swimming Looks To Have Phelps Serve In Some Capacity During Retirement
Following Mark Spitz' retirement from swimming after winning a record seven Gold Medals at the '72 Munich Games, he did little promotional work for USA Swimming. The organization is working to be sure that will not the case with Michael Phelps, who retired Saturday night after winning his record 22nd Olympic medal. USA Swimming execs have spent almost a year talking to Phelps and his agent, Octagon Managing Dir of Olympic & Action Sports Peter Carlisle, about keeping him involved with the organization in a formal capacity. They hope it will allow them to continue growing the sport over time. “We want a playbook for the future,” said USA Swimming Exec Dir Chuck Wielgus. “Michael’s all for that. Peter’s all for that. I think Michael and USA Swimming will have a great relationship going forward ... that will stand in stark contrast to the relationship USA Swimming had and Mark Spitz had a generation ago.” Speaking the day after his final competitive swim, Phelps said he is still committed to growing the sport of swimming. That has been his career-long goal and a major reason that he signed certain deals like the $1M bonus Speedo paid when he won eight Gold Medals and broke Spitz’ record at the '08 Beijing Games. “My competitive part of my career is over,” Phelps said while speaking at a Visa press conference yesterday. “It doesn’t mean I’m done with the sport. ... I’m still going to go with my goal of trying to change the sport and take it to a new level. It hasn’t reached the peak that I want it to reach” (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal).
BUILDING TO THIS DAY: In DC, Barry Svrluga writes Carlisle has spent the past decade "building endorsement contracts with an eye on this moment: the first day after [Phelps] was done as a competitor." Carlisle said, "From my view, I think he's one of the handful of truly global sports icons. In Beijing, he solidified his recognizability throughout the world. He solidified his relevance throughout the world, just with the uniqueness of what he did. But these Games, he solidified his legacy." Svrluga notes fans can "expect more commercials, more ads, more exposure, even as he transitions to a non-competitive lifestyle" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/6). Meanwhile, Phelps said working more with The Michael Phelps Foundation is the “next part of my life." Phelps: "Being able to work with kids is something that’s always been a passion of mine. ... Being able to help kids live a healthy and active lifestyle is something that’s needed in the U.S.” He added he is "looking forward to being able to relax, to be able to have some fun … and just travel the world.” Phelps: “I’m going to just start traveling, wherever the world takes me, wherever that day takes me that’s where I’m going to go” (NBC, 8/4). Phelps said he was not interested in coaching after putting his coach, Bob Bowman, “through what he’s gone through over the last 15 years." Phelps: "I don’t think I could do it. I don’t think I have the patience to do it” (WSJ.com, 8/5).
DO HORSES AWAIT? In San Diego, Ed Zieralski reports there is a "lot more to the recent tweets" between Phelps and horse trainer Bob Baffert and a "possible partnership developing" between the two and Bob Bowman, Phelps' coach. Following his final Olympic race on Saturday, Phelps sent Baffert a tweet saying, "Now me you and @coach_bowman should find our horse and make him the next Secretariat!" Baffert said that he and Phelps have "talked about Phelps' future in horseracing, but Baffert believes Phelps isn't through swimming on the Olympic level." However, Baffert does see Phelps "following Olympic skier Bode Miller's lead into horseracing" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 8/6).
SAYING CONGRATS: Procter & Gamble is running a full-page ad in this morning's USA Today that promotes its Head & Shoulders brand and features an image of Phelps and the copy, "Congratulations On Rewriting History One Stroke At A Time" (THE DAILY).