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Which brings me in a roundabout way to Michael Phelps. At the end of the London Olympics, Superfish couldn’t get out of the pool quick enough.
“I’m so sick of the water,” he said.
“There will be no more staring at that black line for four hours every day.
“Once I retire, I’m retiring. I’m done.”
The romance between Superfish and swimming had lasted 20 years. They had made beautiful golden babies together, 18 of them. So great were their achievements that the English language was butchered to honour Phelps as the ‘winningest’ Olympian ever.
And then it was over. Irrevocably, it seemed. Superfish had had a gut-full of the pool’s relentless nagging and swimming, like any sport a fickle mistress, went off in pursuit of younger talent.
Less than two years later, it’s all back on again. They’re taking things slowly, the pool and the fish, getting reacquainted with each other over shorter distances. No one’s talking wedding bells and Rio just yet.
But it’s a little sad that at the tender age of 28 and with so many possibilities before him, Phelps weighed up all his options and chose … swimming. Maybe it’s better the devil you know. But as his idol Ian Thorpe can no doubt counsel, that way madness lies.
Photo by Vironevaeh