Michael Phelps Says He Won't Drink Alcohol Until After 2016 Summer Olympics

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistAugust 5, 2015

Michael Phelps stands by the blocks during introductions before swimming the 100 meter freestyle in the B final at the Arena Pro Swim Series meet in Charlotte, N.C, Sunday, May 17, 2015. Phelps finished eleventh with a time of 49.96. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)
Nell Redmond/Associated Press

Legendary swimmer Michael Phelps is serious about making one last Olympic run, and he intends to make a significant lifestyle sacrifice to increase his chances of thriving at the 2016 Rio Games.

According to Paul Newberry of The Associated Press (h/t Yahoo.com), the 18-time Olympic gold medalist vows that he will not drink alcohol again until after the Olympics at the earliest:

Before I even went to court, I said to myself that I'm not going to drink until after Rio — if I ever drink again. That was a decision I made for myself. I'm being honest with myself. Going into 2008 and 2012, I didn't do that. I didn't say I was going to take a year off from drinking and not have a drink.

Last October, USA Swimming suspended the 30-year-old swimmer for six months after his second arrest for driving under the influence. He has since returned to action, and he is taking part in the U.S. championships this week in San Antonio.

As Nick Zaccardi of NBC Olympic Talk pointed out, Phelps' career has taken quite a turn since his supposed swan song in London in 2012:

Despite saying he was done swimming following the 2012 Summer Games, Phelps' comments to Newberry suggest that he is more committed to enjoying success in the pool than ever before:

If I'm going to come back, I need to do this the right way. I've got to put my body in the best physical shape I can possibly get it in. Is it a challenge? No. I go to bed earlier. I sleep more. I wake up every day and have a completely clear head. I don't feel like my head went through a brick wall. There are so many positives to it. 

Are there days I'm sitting on the golf course or sitting on my roof (patio) and would like to have a beer? Yeah. But I have a year left in my career. If I really want it bad enough, I will make that sacrifice.

Few would argue with the notion that Phelps is the greatest swimmer of all time, as evidenced by his 22 Olympic medals. He is likely capable of competing at a high level without being fully committed because of his natural talent, but it's scary to think about what he'll be able to accomplish with his current focus.

If Phelps stays true to his word and puts the vast majority of his time and energy into swimming over the next year, it's difficult to imagine him doing anything other than leaving Brazil with a lot of hardware in tow.

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter. 

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