Towson native, Olympic swimmer answers readers' questions

Ezra, Iowa City, Iowa: When will you make your final decision on your Olympic schedule?

Michael Phelps: We don't have a set date on when we will make the decision. We are taking it day by day and will choose what events I feel comfortable with.


Paul, Lutherville: Was there a watershed moment when you knew you were a world-class swimmer or was it an incremental process?

Michael Phelps: I think it was an incremental process, I grew up watching my sisters in the pool. When I started practicing with [my coach] Bob [Bowman] is when huge differences were made.


Ben, Baltimore: I swim at Meadowbrook, and want to know what it is like to be famous and a champion swimmer? How old were you when you started swimming?

Michael Phelps: I don't feel as though I am famous. I appreciate the attention for the sport of swimming but I am a normal kid. I started swimming at the age of five after watching my sister's swim.

Carter, Lutherville: What do you eat before a big meet in the morning and how long before the meet do you eat that meal?

Michael Phelps: I usually try to eat lot of calories. With so many events it is important to sustain a high level of energy through the entire meet. I usually eat two hours before a meet.

Steve, Baltimore: With all of the hype, it is made to seem that your 2004 Olympic run will be a failure if you do not meet or break Spitz's mark. How, at such a young age, are you able to deal with this level of pressure?

Michael Phelps: My goal right now is to go into the Olympics and win a gold medal. As far as the pressure, I try not to think about it. I can only control my own performance. If I do my best, then I can feel good at the end of the day.

Morgan, Sevierville, Tenn: I just want to start by saying that you are my role model and someday I hope to accomplish all that you have! Now to my question: When getting ready to race, I stretch, listen to a pep song, then I pray. What do you go to get pumped for your races? Do you pray?

Michael Phelps: I listen to music before my competitions to get me pumped up. It helps me stay focused.


Neil, Owings Mills: How long do you see yourself competing for and what do you see yourself doing after your swimming career is over?

Michael Phelps: I see myself competing for a while, at least for another Olympic year in Beijing. Next year I plan on continuing my education so I can have a future after swimming.

Jessica, Brooklyn, N.Y.: Is there any other sport you're looking forward to watching at the Olympics?

Michael Phelps: I do not think I will have a lot of time to watch a lot of other sports. Any Olympic sport is great to watch.

Ansliegh: Obviously you have no way of knowing for sure, but do you think that the US freestyle relay teams (4 x 100 and 4 x 200) have a pretty good chance at reclaiming their crowns? Would you say we're stronger than we have been in recent years? I personally think Australia's time is up, but that's me...

Michael Phelps: Australia has always been a top competitor in swimming but there are also many other teams that I am sure will put up a fight.