Michael Phelps had long hoped to venture into the sports business world, so operating the pool where he trains was a natural way to get his feet wet.
"I'm going to have to learn a lot, but I'm ready for it," Phelps said Monday at USA Swimming's annual Golden Goggle Awards banquet, where he won three times, including for male athlete of the year.
Phelps and his coach, Bob Bowman, announced earlier this month that their partnership is taking over the Meadowbrook Aquatic Center and the North Baltimore Aquatic Club, where Phelps began training at age 7.
"It's going to be fun," Phelps said. "It's something different, something that I've never done before. Bob and I have had a great relationship over the last 10 years or so, so why not try some other things to see if we can master that?"
Phelps said he and Bowman haven't talked much about what the swimmer's role will be. Bowman said he expects to keep Phelps updated on developments and have him involved in major decisions. But Phelps' main focus will still be training.
Phelps said he and Bowman had been discussing the possibility for almost a year. They will operate the facility for five years or more with an option to buy it in the future.
Bowman began coaching Phelps at NBAC when he was 11. After the 2004 Olympics, the swimmer followed Bowman to the University of Michigan, where he was head coach of the men's swim team. Now they are returning to Baltimore together.
"It's a new challenge," Phelps said. "It's something him and I are going to have to work together toward. It's going to be a lot of work, but I think we're both ready for it."
Bowman expects to lead an elite group of about eight to 10 swimmers who will train with Phelps and fellow Olympian Katie Hoff. The coach said he hopes to have the group in place within six months and knows there's a lot of interest among other elite swimmers.
"The word is out," he said.