Originally Posted by CoachBobM
It's interesting that it was Anthony Ervin who got it right. When Phelps was adamantly declaring that his retirement was going to be permanent, Ervin was predicting that it wouldn't be. I'm pretty sure that the reason Ervin was willing to disagree with Phelps about what Phelps was going to do was because Ervin, unlike Phelps, knew what it is like for a competitive swimmer to try to stop competing.
Phelps undoubtedly wanted, and perhaps even needed, a break from the demanding and downright oppressive training schedule that an Olympic swimmer has to follow. But Ervin knew that, for a competitive swimmer, the training and preparation, and even the competitions themselves, have become such an integral part of his life that he will inevitably feel a vacuum if he tries to give it up.
Now, of course, Phelps has a wife and son to occupy his time, so there's more of a chance that he will retire, at least for awhile.
I remember in another thread (TI97), prior to the Olympic events you pointed out that he had two "distractions." It is remarkable that in spite of these he pushed through. If he takes incremental steps, as in one event leading to the next, he can stay motivated.
There is implicit assertion that people that those who do not want him to retire are callous to the sacrifices that have been made and are to be made. Not really.
Once you have witnessed people like Michael Jordan come back, the concept of the vaccum is easier to grasp. I agree with you and paraphase that Phelps saying he was retiring was another way of saying he wanted to clear his head. The inquiry about into his future plans is intrusive to his personal space.
Another thing about these distractions is that these days they appear to on board. His girlfriend/ fiance came across to me as a teamplayer.