Los Angeles: With his chance for a last burst of Games glory at Rio just months away, Michael Phelps says he's finally come to appreciate what he's accomplished in an already extraordinary Olympic career.
It's not something he really had time to do when he was amassing 22 Olympic swimming medals. Eighteen of them are gold — eight of those won in one at the 2008 Beijing Games. "Throughout my whole career, I literally went from one meet to another, from one event to the next, one medal to the next, one record to the next record," Phelps said.
"A lot of it was a blur. We were always looking for the next thing."
But during his recent move from Baltimore to Arizona, he took a good look at all those medals, and remembered just how he felt after he'd won them. "That was the first time I'd ever done it, that those things ever sunk in," Phelps said.
"For the first time I was able to look back at my career and be really excited and be proud of what I have done."
Phelps's life is still hectic. He is attacking an array of responsibilities in and out of the pool with gusto that he admits was lacking ahead of 2012 Olympics. His fiancee, Nicole Johnson, is expecting their first child in May.
Meanwhile he is committed to a rigorous training programme that nowadays is balanced by strict attention to diet and recovery aimed at keeping his 30-year-old body in tune.
The intense regimen is the subject of a new, atmospheric commercial for sportswear maker Under Armour.