NEW YORK Michael Phelps was expressing his admiration for Dara Torres and her goal of making the U.S. Olympic swim team as a 41-year-old when somebody asked if he'd be attempting a similar feat around 2024.
Phelps didn't need any time to ponder the question Tuesday. He's long vowed to coach Bob Bowman that he's not swimming "a day past the age of 30."
"Once I hit that age, if I'm still going, the cap and goggles and suit are hanging up, and I'm done," Phelps said. "I'm out of here."
Phelps, who turns 23 in June, has already been to two Olympics and won six gold medals. He holds six world records.
"I figure by that point I would've already given my coach about 30 or 40 heart attacks and turned every hair on his head gray," he said.
Bowman, who already has quite a few gray hairs, said he believes Phelps. That would mean his last Olympics would be in 2012.
So what does a 30-year-old retiree do? Phelps is intrigued by the idea of working with his agent, Peter Carlisle.
"He always tells me I can be his assistant," Phelps said. "I'm like, 'I don't want to be an assistant. I want to be out there doing things."'
Phelps turned pro when he was 16. As a high school kid, he didn't comprehend all the complex language in the endorsement contracts he signed. He never anticipated how much time he would have to devote to photo shoots and commercials and traveling for sponsors.
Now he knows what to expect.
Moments like Tuesday afternoon, when Phelps stood in front of an audience in a swimsuit, arms outstretched like a scarecrow, as dramatic music blared in the background.
He was helping Speedo unveil its newest high-tech suits. And all he could think was, "Are my arms still?"
"They definitely weren't," he conceded. The same limbs that propel him through the water faster than anyone in history were tiring.
"I've seen the business side of sport since I was 15," Phelps said. "I've been around it for a while, and I enjoy it."