Olympics Hero Phelps Splashes Down in the City

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The New York Sun

Less than 24 hours after arriving on American soil for the first time since becoming a 14-time Olympic gold medalist, Michael Phelps was in New York yesterday for one of the first of what will be many events: a press conference at a YMCA on 14th Street, followed by a few laps in the pool with children attending a swim camp.

The press conference was to publicize a $20,000 grant to the YMCA by Visa for a program called Play Every Day, which aims to encourage New York’s children to become physically active, but much more interesting to the dozens of members of the press present was Mr. Phelps himself.

He told reporters it was “a good feeling being back on American soil,” and that Beijing was “an amazing ride, something that I’ll never forget.”


When asked what he was looking forward to doing now that he was back, he replied that he couldn’t wait to see his dog for the first time in a few months. “I miss the little guy. I just hope he remembers me,” he said.

Mr. Phelps cleverly sidestepped a potentially tricky question: whether he would beat an at-his-prime Mark Spitz in a race. He said that because of advances in the technology of swimwear, comparisons might be difficult. “I would have no idea what would happen. But it would definitely be interesting.” Mr. Spitz said he thinks they would “probably tie.”

On hosting “Saturday Night Live” next month, Mr. Phelps said: “I hope I am not literally going to be a fish out of water.”


He was even asked by one reporter about his feelings on having a potential vice president from his home state, a question that didn’t appear to confuse him as much as everyone else in the room. (Senator Biden represents Delaware; Mr. Phelps comes from Baltimore.) “I’m looking forward to going back to the city,” he replied.

The 32 or so children at swim camp appeared impressed to be so close to athletic greatness. Noell Parks, 7, who goes to school at P.S. 321 and is from Brooklyn, said Mr. Phelps is “the fastest swimmer in the world — he just won eight gold medals.” When asked how fast she could swim, Noell said: “I don’t swim fast or slow — I’m just medium.” Sitting beside her, Izaiah Jones, 6, of Bay 50th Street in Brooklyn, said he didn’t get a chance to see Mr. Phelps race in the Olympics, because he didn’t know what TV channel the events were on. “But I had heard he was real fast,” Izaiah said.

The New York Sun

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