Michael Phelps is looking to stay dry for a while. Days after he was busted for drunk driving in Baltimore, the Olympic champion announced he would take time off from competitive swimming. He issued the following public statement Sunday via Twitter:
The past few days have been extremely difficult. I recognize that this is not my first lapse in judgment, and I am extremely disappointed with myself. I’m going to take some time away to attend a program that will provide the help I need to better understand myself. Swimming is a major part of my life, but right now I need to focus my attention on me as an individual, and do the necessary work to learn from this experience and make better decisions in the future.
Phelps, the most decorated U.S. Olympian of all time, was arrested for DUI and other reckless driving charges early Tuesday morning near the Fort McHenry Tunnel after putting in eight hours at the Horseshoe Casino. The 29-year-old was pulled over after being clocked going 84 mph in a 45 mph zone, and was seen crossing the double lane lines.
As Phelps indicated, it’s wasn’t his first time in trouble. Even as he dominated in the pool, the Baltimore native also grabbed attention for incidents on dry land. He was caught drunk driving in 2004, and photographed taking a bong hit in 2009. After both incidents, he issued apologies saying he had learned from his mistakes.
Phelps initially retired from swimming after his record-breaking turn at the 2012 Olympics in London. But he later decided retirement was boring, and dove back in for the U.S. Nationals meet in August. Speculation was beginning to build that the Baltimore Bullet would make a bid for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.