Michael Phelps‘ longtime coach explained why swimming needs Phelps and how long it would take Phelps to be competitive with the world’s best swimmers, if he were to come back, in a BBC article.
“Swimming needs [Phelps] because he shines a spotlight on the sport and adds a level of excitement we don’t get from anyone else,” Bob Bowman said while at the UK Sport World Class Performance Conference in Manchester. “When we’ve gone to some meets this year and he is not swimming, you see hardly anyone watching. The stands were full when he was swimming.”
It was revealed Phelps had re-entered the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency drug testing pool on Nov .14, when he was attending the Minneapolis Grand Prix.
Phelps didn’t officially come out of retirement, but re-entering drug testing makes him eligible to swim next summer, when the U.S. team for the 2015 World Championships will be decided.
“The two of us have a standard,” Bowman said, according to the BBC. “Should he choose to come back, I would never allow him to be in a meet unless he could compete near his top level. That’s just the way we do business.”
Bowman said Phelps would need “years of work” to be “competitive at the top.” He also cautioned this:
“I would say it’s more likely that he would not come back than that he would come back now,” Bowman said. “We just gave him the option to do it if he wants to.”