By Kevin Van Valkenburg
September 26, 2008
Is today Friday? Or is it Thursday? Without looking at his BlackBerry, he has no clue. Luckily for him, he has people - mainly his agent, Peter Carlisle, and his media manager, Drew Johnson, both of Octagon - to tell him where his schedules dictate that he needs to be.
His schedule called for him to be in Baltimore yesterday, marking just the second time he has been home since he won eight gold medals in Beijing. (He managed to slip into town for a few days two weeks ago without the media's knowledge.) He held a news conference at the Meadowbrook Aquatic Center yesterday to announce that he had signed a deal with Kellogg's to appear on boxes of Corn Flakes, Frosted Flakes, Rice Krispies Treats and Club Crackers, and the company also presented his foundation with a check for $250,000.
"My friends were joking with me, asking, 'So you're going to be [on cereal boxes] with Tony the Tiger?'" Phelps said. "I said 'Yup.' Pretty cool."
The Rodgers Forge native couldn't stop yawning yesterday throughout a brief interview - the byproduct of a never-ending case of jet lag - but living out of a pair of suitcases for almost four months, he said he was thrilled to be home.
"I'm trying to get settled in a new house, and I kind of get lost from time to time because I have no idea what the roads are anymore," said Phelps, who owns a place in Fells Point but is staying with a friend until his condo gets furnished. "I'm not used to driving around downtown. It took me a few minutes to figure out how to get to my place. Once I'm here for a solid week straight, I'll get it down."
Phelps' worldwide post-Olympic tour started in Portugal, where he was able to lie low for the first time in months. He even spent some time on a driving range, pounding golf balls, a hobby he plans to pick up.
"I have a wicked slice right now," Phelps said. "But I can get a hold of one occasionally."
From Portugal, he went to London for the handoff of the 2012 Olympic Games. Then he did stops in Orlando, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Cleveland, back to New York, Atlanta and then Baltimore. Along the way, he did promotional stops for Visa and Disney, he presented an award at the MTV Video Music Awards, he attended the Browns- Pittsburgh Steelers football game in support of his friend Braylon Edwards (but not the Browns), and, of course, hosted Saturday Night Live.
"I can't say one thing has been" the most fun, Phelps said. "SNL was cool. The VMAs were cool. I'm just meeting so many unreal people, the kind of people you see on TV. It's just all been a dream come true."
This weekend, he's headed to Ann Arbor, Mich., to be honored at a Michigan football game, and then he'll return to Baltimore for a parade Oct. 4 honoring him and other competitors in the Olympics and Paralympics who have ties to Maryland. In the midst of his hectic schedule, he has been sleeping in for the first time in years. He did, however, get into the pool for the first time recently, just because it doesn't feel right to completely leave the water behind.
"I just jumped in and swam around for half an hour or 45 minutes," Phelps said. "It hurt, but afterward I actually felt better. It was a good thing to get back in the water again and work out a little bit. It's weird not having swimming or working out ... be a part of my everyday life, just because for the last 10 years, I've been [in the pool] pretty much every day. But it's a good feeling to not have anything to do. It feels nice to get up when I want to get up."
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