Michael Phelps to take break from swimming after drunken driving arrest

Sun Oct 5, 2014 4:34pm EDT
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(Reuters) - Famed U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps, who recently returned to top-level competition after a two-year retirement, said on Sunday he would take a break from swimming and undergo treatment after his arrest last week for drunken driving.

Phelps, 29, who is the most decorated Olympian of all time, did not say how long a break he plans to take from the sport, though his agent said in a statement that he is entering a six-week, "comprehensive" inpatient program.

A winner of 22 Olympic medals, Phelps has appeared to be pursuing a spot on the U.S. team for the 2016 Olympics.

Phelps was arrested early on Tuesday after going 84 miles per hour (135 kph) in a 45-mph (72-kph) area, crossing the double-lane lines inside a Baltimore tunnel and subsequently failing a Breathalyzer test, according to police.

"The past few days have been extremely difficult," the 18-time Olympic gold medalist said on Twitter. "I’m going to take some time away to attend a program that will provide the help I need to better understand myself."

Phelps first tested the comeback waters in April at a low-key meet in Phoenix and his progress had been steady rather than his usual impressive.

He has had to deal with the unfamiliar sting of losing and re-calibrating his own sky-high standards.

But his results and times slowly improved through the U.S. nationals in August and his international return to competition at the Pan Pacific championships later that same month in Australia.

At the latter competition, he finished with gold medals in the 100 meters butterfly, the 4x200m and medley relays as well as silvers in the 200m individual medley and the 4x100m relays.   Continued...

Michael Phelps reacts after placing seventh in the 100m freestyle in the 2014 USA National Championships in Irvine, California, in this file photo taken August 6, 2014.  REUTERS/Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports/Files