BALTIMORE | At an age when most people are just settling into the workforce, Michael Phelps is thinking about retirement.
The 14-time Olympic gold medalist still has a few important events to train for, most notably the world championships in July and, of course, the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
After that, Phelps will almost certainly put his swim suit in a drawer, toss aside his goggles and look for something else to do.
"It's weird to think about it. My mom and I joke about it all the time," Phelps said. "She says, 'I'm still not retired, and you're going to retire before you're 30."'
Yes, but few can claim to have worked so hard for so long at the same job.
"If I retire at the age of 27, that's 20 years in the pool," Phelps noted. "That's a long time to be staring at the black line, four to five hours a day."
In a recent interview with the Associated Press, Phelps spoke about life after swimming and the importance of ending his days in the water with, well, a splash.
"There are things I still want to do in the pool," he said. "I'm making steps in the right direction. But there isn't much time left. We're getting to the end of the road, where things need to start happening now."
Phelps is coming off a disappointing performance this month at the Michigan Grand Prix, where he was defeated in the 200-meter fly. It marked the first time in nearly a decade he lost in the finals of that event.
"I wasn't too pleased with what happened there. It's frustrating, losing the streak I had in 200-fly," Phelps said. "That was a streak I wanted to keep throughout my career. I think it was a good thing for me to have now, something I can use as a wake-up call heading into worlds."