Michael Phelps was named Athlete of the Year last night by USA Swimming at the annual Golden Goggle Awards, which recognize outstanding achievement in the pool for American athletes.
Phelps was something of a shoo-in for the award after winning eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics, but the 23-year-old Fells Point resident was happy to take a night off from his busy traveling schedule to celebrate the honor.
He also received an award for Performance of the Year for his victory in the 100-meter butterfly, as well as one for being a part of the men's 400relay.
"It's been an awesome run," Phelps said. "I've had so much support, from my family, my coach and my friends. My coach, in particular, has put up with a lot. I look forward to seeing what we can do in the future."
Phelps took some time to talk about his business partnership with his coach, Bob Bowman, and the recent announcement that the duo had purchased the business side of the Meadowbrook Aquatic Center, as well as control of the North Baltimore Aquatic Club. It's something Bowman and Phelps had talked about for more than a year before deciding to go forward with their plan.
"I'm going to have to learn a lot, but I'm ready for it," Phelps said. "It's going to be fun. It's something different, something that I've never done before. Bob and I have had a great relationship over the last 10 years or so, so why not try some other things to see if we can master that? It's going to be exciting. I'm going to learn a lot."
Phelps said he has begun to climb back into the pool, although he won't start to train seriously again until January.
"I feel just so out of it right now that I have to do something," Phelps said.
Bowman was named USA Swimming's Coach of the Year, the second straight year he has won that award.
"I just want to say thanks to the Phelps family, Debbie, Whitney and Hilary," Bowman said. "We've been through a lot together. And Michael … I love you, man."
Towson's Katie Hoff was also in attendance, though she was nursing a sore throat that reduced her voice to little more than a whisper. Hoff announced this week that she would be working with Bowman from now on, leaving her longtime coach, Paul Yetter, after a somewhat disappointing performance at the Olympics.
"She's so focused," Bowman said of Hoff. "I've been kind of working with her alone [recently] and she can really train like that. Michael could never train like that. He has to have people around him. Katie is so focused on what she wants to do."