Michael Phelps: Swimming passion has returned

Thu, Feb 9
10:42
AM ET
Michael PhelpsDon Emmert/AFP/Getty ImagesMichael Phelps was in New York Wednesday to begin campaigning for Head & Shoulders.

Attention, swimmers preparing for the Olympics in London this summer: Michael Phelps is back, both mentally and physically.

After winning 16 Olympic medals and being named American Swimmer of the Year eight times between 2001 and 2009, the 26-year-old Phelps has struggled in the pool at times since winning eight medals at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

Ryan Lochte, 27, beat Phelps in both the 200-meter freestyle and 200-meter medley at the world championships last year, and some people were questioning how dedicated Phelps has been heading into his final Olympics in July.

Phelps agreed that he had lost his focus for the past few years -- but no more.

"My attitude has changed recently and for the better. I'm happy now, and I'm actually excited about going to work out," said Phelps, who has been using a hyperbaric chamber to aid in recovery from training. "That's unusual for me. I wasn't like that for the last Olympics."

On Wednesday, Phelps was in New York to promote his new "Wash in Confidence" campaign for Procter & Gamble's Head & Shoulders shampoo. He already has sponsorships with Speedo athletic wear, Subway, Under Armour and Omega watches.

Phelps didn't divulge which events he'll be swimming in during the Games, saying it's the motivation to get out of bed and into the pool.

Will he defend all five individual crowns -- 100-meter butterfly, 200m butterfly, 200m freestyle, 200m individual medley and 400m individually medley -- and the relay crowns of 4x100m freestyle, 4x200m freestyle and 4x100m medley?

"'I will not be answering that question," Phelps said. "It's my motivation to keep it to myself."

But Phelps did say he's feeling great about where is mentally as he begins preparing for London in the next few weeks. On Sunday, Phelps heads to Colorado Springs, Colo., to begin a three-week training camp, with the all-important U.S. Olympic trials in June.

"This is the most excited I've been since going into Beijing, and this is the best shape I've been in," Phelps said. "I'm not pulling my hair out being forced to train. I want to get into the water. I've found my passion for it again."