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May 30, 2017

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Phelps on comeback: 'We'll see if I get that itch again'

Michael Phelps hasn't gotten the urge to return to swimming.

Not yet anyway.

The winningest athlete in Olympic history is clearly enjoying marriage, fatherhood and a newfound willingness to speak out on contentious issues such as doping.

But, in a tantalizing concession that he hasn't totally closed the door on another comeback, Phelps told The Associated Press that it might be tough to stay away from the pool -- especially if he attends the upcoming world championships in Budapest.

"The true test will be, if I do end up going over to the worlds this summer, do I have that itch again?" Phelps said Tuesday during a telephone interview.

He was already strongly considering his first comeback when he attended the 2013 championships in Barcelona, and there was no doubt he'd be back for his fifth Olympics when that meet ended.

"I was just like, 'This is a joke. How can these guys be swimming this slow?'" recalled Phelps, who was especially motivated by a disappointing performance from the men's relay team. "We'll see if I get that itch again."

If Phelps returns to competitive swimming, the demands of training would surely cut heavily into his family time. That's why, if he tries to predict what the future might hold, it doesn't include a sixth Olympics at Tokyo in 2020.

"I'm having so many amazing experience, so many cool experiences, with my family," he said. "I don't see myself making a comeback. I have no desire right now to do it. I'm in the second chapter of my life."

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