There's some drama going 'round the professional swimming circuit, and Michael Phelps wants to use it for inspiration now that he's on an unthinkable streak of not winning everything by a lot. "Drama" in the swim world tends to be about as interesting as swimming itself (and with a DUI and a bong photo behind him, Phelps is nearly tapped out anyway) but we'll humor this because the upshot of it all is that Phelps isn't winning.
At the Michigan Grand Prix this weekend, the 14-time Olympic gold medalist placed fourth in the 200-meter butterfly on Saturday and second in the 200 individual medley and in the 100 freestyle on Sunday. The loss in the fly was the biggest surprise; Phelps hasn't lost that race since 2002, when he was just 17 years old and didn't have an Olympic medal or an arrest to his name. He told reporters that "comments" have been made — presumably by his competitors — that "have kind of set a little fire underneath me." (We're a little surprised he chose not to out them.) Maybe that's why he's sleeping in an "altitude tent" at home to improve his aerobic conditioning. Or maybe swimming is just that obnoxious anyway.
Phelps' coach Bob Bowman says he thinks those "comments" have been speculation about his early retirement, but the 25-year-old is committed to competing in the 2012 Games in London. Either way, the post-London landscape will be a startling one for both Phelps and for the media: swimming will soon lose its cover boy, and the cover boy might not win.