According to Michael Phelps‘ communications representative, Octagon’s Drew Johnson, Phelps plans to swim the 50 and 100-meter freestyle and the 100-meter butterfly at the 2014 Arena Grand Prix in Mesa, Arizona, reports Mike Klingaman of the Baltimore Sun.
USA Swimming officially confirmed Phelps was coming out of retirement and returning to competition in Mesa, April 24-26th, yesterday in a press release.
On Monday, during the media horde’s rush to learn more, NBAC Head Coach Bob Bowman was low-key about his star swimmer’s return to the pool, managing expectations considering Phelps’ 18-month absence from competition. When asked how he felt Phelps would perform, Bowman told the Klingaman:
“I think he certainly won’t be embarrassed swimming in the meet,” Bowman said, “and I think he will be competitive. The difference is, he is doing half the training he used to.”
Bowman further cautioned that long-term plans — the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio — had been discussed in general terms, but that they were merely taking Phelps’ competitions one meet at a time.
As predicted by SwimSwam, Phelps’ schedule will skew to the shorter events, sprint races, as he eases back into competition. Interestingly, Phelps showed a lot of promise back in 2010, the same Pan Pacific Championship season he’s working through now, in the 100 meter freestyle. Coming off of a spectacular 2008 Olympic Games and 2009 World Championships, Phelps was off in most of his events. He clearly wasn’t engaged. His 200m butterfly was painfully slow and his 400m IM looked like molasses in the water. Rumors swirled that Phelps wasn’t motivated to race, that he had been missing workout sessions that season, and no one could blame the Olympic icon after all of the success he had achieved. Then Phelps leadoff the 4x100m freestyle relay in a 48.1. The crowd collectively gasped. Phelps could obviously switch it on when he needed.
Expect Phelps to experience many ups and downs as he works through his meet schedule over the next 90 days, with glimmers of greatness and signs that he could actually achieve personal best times in his sprint events.
Returning to the sport of swimming, the Greatest Olympian of All-Time will certainly impact coverage and continue to attract more children to the sport, increasing the base, but how will it impact his wallet? According to Bloomberg, Phelps should see a net gain.
Rick Burton, who served as chief marketing officer for the U.S. Olympic Committee at the 2008 Games in Beijing, told Bloomberg:
While yesterday’s announcement was best for brands such as Subway Restaurants that are already associated with Phelps, new endorsers will likely want to know his plans for the 2016 Games.
Octagon has been Phelps’ sports management representative since he turned pro at the tender age of 16. Peter Carlisle, Phelps’ longtime manager, could not be reached for comment, but he has been consistent about his approach to building the Phelps brand. Carlisle likes companies with global marketing and advertising campaigns. While Phelps is a Team USA athlete, he’s an international icon. Phelps’ inspiration transcends borders and nationalities. He is everyone’s hero and belongs to world.
Eidtor Note: According to Forbes Magazine, prior to 2012, Phelps was earning roughly $7 million per year from corporate partners Subway, VISA, Speedo, Procter & Gamble and Under Armour.