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The return of Michael Phelps

 Back in the pool:  Michael Phelps at a meet in Santa Clara, Calif. in 2009. Photograph by JD Lasica.

Back in the pool:  Michael Phelps at a meet in Santa Clara, Calif. in 2009. Photograph by JD Lasica.

He’s ba-ack. 

Did you seriously think he’d be going away?

It looks more and more like Michael Phelps plans on swimming at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero.

 Training five times a week – check. Jumping into the drug-testing pool – check. Eyeing a swim at Irvine, Calif., site of the summer U.S. championships – check. Longtime Coach Bob Bowman noting that he’s looking good – check, check and check.

Look, no sooner had Michael announced his retirement at the London Games than Ryan Lochte was saying we hadn’t seen the last of him. And Ryan would know. They’re not merely rivals. They’re very close friends.

In my new novel “Water Music,” the athlete-protagonists do many things. But they keep playing tennis and swimming, because it’s not only what they do. It’s who they are.

And it’s what their fans, families and countries expect. Admit it: Wouldn’t it be fun to see Michael and Ryan competing against and with each other again? Sure, they’ll be in their 30s and others may very well take the prizes that once were theirs. Yet whenever I hear people talk about aging athletes I think of those lines from Tennyson’s “Ulysses”:

but something ere the end,

Some work of noble note, may yet be done,

Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods…

Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'

We are not now that strength which in old days

Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;

One equal temper of heroic hearts,

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.