By Barry Janoff
October 5, 2014: The public is used to seeing Michael Phelps in deep water, but the Olympic swimming star this time is not looking to win another gold meda. Instead, he is seeking to regain control of his life.
Days after he was arrested for DUI in his hometown of Baltimore, Phelps wrote on his Twitter and Facebook accounts that he was going to "take some time away to attend a program that will provide the help I need to better understand myself."
A statement from marketing and athlete-celebrity management firm Octagon, which represents Phelps, confirmed that Phelps would enter a six-week "comprehensive program that will help him focus on all of his life experiences and identify areas of need for long-term personal growth and development."
On Sept. 30, Phelps, 29, was stopped for driving 84 MPH in a 45 zone near the Fort McHenry Tunnel on Interstate 95 in Baltimore. He was charged with excessive speeding, DUI and crossing double lane lines. Police said that he failed field sobriety tests.
(Editor's Note: USA Swimming on Oct. 6 suspended Phelps for six months and said he would not be allowed to represent the U.S. at the 2015 FINA World Swimming Championships in Russia next August. He will be allowed to continue to train.)
The incident harkened back to 2004 when the then 19-year-old Phelps was arrested in Maryland and later pled guilty to driving while impaired. In 2009, a photo published in a British paper show Phelps using a bong at a party at the University of South Carolina.
"The past few days have been extremely difficult," Phelps wrote on his social media pages Sunday (Oct. 5). "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."
Phelps' agent is Peter Carlisle, managing director Olympics and Action Sports at Octagon.
According to the statement from Octagon, "While this has been an extremely difficult time for him, he is encouraged that this comprehensive program will help him focus on all of his life experiences and identify areas of need for long-term personal growth and development. Michael takes this matter seriously and intends to share his learning experiences with others in the future."
Phelps, who won 22 Olympic medals, including 18 golds, in the 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012 Summer Games, retired following the London Games two years ago but came out of retirement earlier this year to compete for a spot in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
In August, in his first international competition since the 2012 Games, Phelps won five medals at the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships, held in Australia.
"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 wrote on Sunday.
The 2004 situation saw him sentenced to 18 months probation; the latter incident cost him an endorsement deal with Kellogg's, which elected not to renew its contract with Phelps, and he also was suspended for three months by USA Swimming, the sport's governing body.
Phelps' current roster of endorsement deals, which bring in about $10 million annually, according to industry analysts, include Under Armour, Subway, Visa, Omega and Aqua Sphere, with whom Phelps recently signed a "long-term strategic partnership" to work with his coach, Bob Bowman, to develop a line of products for both competitive swimmers and the public at large.
Also helps oversee The Michael Phelps Foundation, which works to "promote healthy, active lives, especially for children, primarily by expanding the opportunities for participation."
"It's too early to tell [how this could impact his deals]," Don Rockwell, CEO for Aqua Sphere, told AP. "For the most part, we're supportive. We just need to wait and see what happens. This is not a deal-breaker for us, unless we find out something else that happened."
Last week, also on his social media pages, Phelps wrote of his arrest, "Earlier this morning, I was arrested and charged with DUI, excessive speeding and crossing double lane lines. I understand the severity of my actions and take full responsibility. I know these words may not mean much right now but I’m deeply sorry to everyone I have let down."
Phelps is scheduled to appear in Baltimore City District Court for trial on Nov. 19.
With Two Years Until Summer '16 Games, Phelps Swims Into New Deal
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