Michael Phelps' latest love interest is 22-year-old Sarah Herndon, according to an interview with the waitress/model from California (the same description as his previous flame, Megan Rossee, whom he dumped just after Christmas). He and Herndon met in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, just before Christmas; fished for lobster in the Bahamas after the holidays and had an evening of sushi and "Zero Dark Thirty" back in Baltimore. Here's a report.
By Hugo Daniel
Michael Phelps charmed his latest love interest on a romantic lobster fishing trip — jumping into the water and joking, "This is my home, too, you know."
Sarah Herndon was whisked to the Bahamas by the Oympic champion for a romantic five-day break of fishing, snorkeling and tropical sunsets.
In an interview, Herndon, a 22-year-old waitress, beamed, saying: "Michael's a good kisser. He's very cuddly and kissy, which is cute. He's charming and a gentleman.
"He's got like a confident side to him to that makes you want more. But he's very sweet at the same time."
She added: "Michael's body is obviously great. I mean, he's an athlete. He's got a great sculpted body. He's obviously been a swimmer, like, forever.
"There's not really much bad you can say about it."
However, she said, “What happens between me and Michael intimately is our business. And not something I care to talk about with anyone else besides us.
"I did stay in his room, but I'm not going to say that he's a good lover or anything. I would never talk about something like that.
"Michael is a very affectionate, sweet guy. That's all I'm going to say. I'm really happy to have got to know him on a more personal level," she said.
Describing a special moment on a lobster fishing expedition off a remote Bahamas island, Herndon said: "It was sunset and the water was so teal and clear — really beautiful.
"We were holding hands, and he was putting his arm around me when I was cold. He's really caring and affectionate. He would kiss me in front of his friends — you could tell he was happy to have me there.
"He was treating me like I was his girl."
And Phelps' aquatic skills were put to good use when it came to catching that night's dinner.
She said: "He ended up diving in with the driver of the boat and pulling up the lobster. It was really funny -- he was telling them, 'You know, I live in the water, too!'
"Michael was really great at it. He was really excited to catch the lobster."
Herndon told how she met Phelps just before Christmas while on a family holiday to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
While out clubbing with her three sisters (twins Rachel and Rebecca, 18, and Krista, 19), the women were handpicked by workers to come and sit at Phelps' table.
Herndon said: "Me and all my sisters were dancing on the bar. A worker came up to us and wanted us to go and hang out at his table. He said, 'Michael Phelps is coming; I want you there'."
Herndon split with her boyfriend of 15 months at the beginning of December while Phelps recently dumped Megan Rossee.
So the pair drowned their sorrows with champagne and vodka mixers and got close for the first time on the dance floor.
Herndon said: "We danced, but we were just more talking. There was definitely an attraction, but nothing really happened that night. We both talked about how we were both recently single. He didn't say a lot. He just said it didn't work out [with Megan]. It didn't sound too fun. I think that's just what happens when you break up with people.
"When we left, he asked for my number. And he ended up getting in touch with me the next day."
Phelps, 27, invited the women to a party at his friend's house.
Herndon, who's also a model, said: "He was really sweet. We didn't know him super well when we walked in, and he was like 'sisters!' — just all excited."
After the women left, Phelps texted Herndon again, she said: "He said 'I'd really like to see you more. Can you stay an extra day with me?'
"I was having the best time ever in Cabo, and I really wasn't ready to leave so to be able to stay and hang out with a cool guy. I was definitely stoked."
Herndon got the green light from her fire-captain dad and changed her flight.
The next day she hung out with Phelps as he played golf.
She said: "I got to meet a lot of cool people. George Clooney was just there and I just missed him. Michael is good friends with George's girlfriend, Stacey Keibler. He was hanging out with them the night before."
That night, “We kissed. We stayed with each other that night and got to know each other.”
The pair then flew their separate ways for Christmas, but Phelps soon invited Herndon to the Bahamas.
She agreed, and Phelps paid for her flight and emailed her a ticket. She joined him and a group of his friends at the Atlantis resort on January 11, where he was playing a poker tournament with his housemate, Jeff Gross.
At Atlantis, Phelps impressed Herndon with pranks on his friends.
She said: "He definitely likes to do pranks. He, like, filled the trash can with water and then tilted it against the door and then he would knock on one of the guys in the morning, when they were kind of hung over, and it would spill water all over them. It was pretty funny."
Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, was also "constantly gambling" and could bet up to $10,000 in a night.
Herndon said: "He was constantly betting all the time, like quirky bets with other people which was quite entertaining.
"He likes coming up with funny bets. He bets big money — like, thousands of dollars.
"He told a friend of his, 'Heads or tails,' and told him to pick any amount between zero and $1,000. His friend picked $1,000, and Michael won. The guy was like, 'How about double or nothing?' and they doubled it to $2,000 and MP won tails again. He showed me the check later.
"He would have, like, five bets at the same time with his friends. He bets on football, and he bet someone he would lose a certain amount of weight in a month.
"He doesn't take it too seriously or get too upset if he loses. He'll just bet on something else. He doesn't get nervous about anything. I don't think I saw him get nervous once in his golfing or anything. He just knows that he can do something if he puts his mind to it, which is cool."
After Atlantis, the pair took a plane and boat to the remote island Great Guana Cay where they were guests of the owners of exclusive Baker's Bay Golf & Ocean Club.
At the retreat, the couple enjoyed a private chef who cooked bacon omelettes in the morning and steak and fish for lunch and dinner.
Asked how Phelps keeps his swimmer's body, Herndon said: "He definitely eats healthy. He was getting up pretty early and going to the gym, like 8 or 9 a.m. I think he mainly likes to swim as his cardio, but he was pretty relaxed. He's not on a strict schedule right now. I just think he has that body already implanted on him, and he doesn't have to try that hard anymore."
Phelps was again filming his reality golf show "The Haney Project," but he broke away for the lobster trip and to take Herndon snorkelling.
"He took my hand and tried to find me some fish. I thought he must be wearing snorkeling fins ... he was so fast, but he wasn't! I'm like, 'We're going really fast,' but it was just his swimming. He's an amazing athlete," she said, giggling.
By night the pair enjoyed romantic evenings on their patio drinking wine and going to the beach bars.
Herndon said: "He is a good dancer. He's cute. He's really smooth about the way he sings. He, like, raps and dances. It's cute. He would kiss me when he we were dancing. We were just getting close."
After the vacation, Phelps invited Herndon to fly back to Baltimore with him for a date night.
She said: "He invited me to go on the private jet with him to Baltimore. It was awesome. He threw me over his shoulder as we went to go on the plane.
"He showed me around a little bit, and then we went for sushi and saw the movie 'Zero Dark Thirty.'
"It was romantic. He's a great date. He's a gentleman, very polite. I'm sure he gets that from his mother — they're pretty close."
Phelps invited Herndon to watch the Ravens in the Super Bowl, but she declined because she had prior arrangements with friends.
Herndon says she doesn't want to be called his girlfriend yet and they've agreed to take things slowly.
She said: "He brought up possibly going to the Super Bowl, but I had some plans to be with some friends in San Diego already.
"But he's going to Vegas next week, and I might go with him. He's coming out here to L.A. in a few weeks, and I'll see him then.
"We're both, like, newly single, and we're still getting to know each other. It's just really casual right now. It was, like, too soon to talk about being exclusive, but we talked about how we had a great time and how we would see each other soon.
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"Later on we may become a couple, but we're not going to rush into anything. He's a great guy."