Michael Phelps with all his Olympic medals

Will Phelps return to the pool for the 2016 Games? Reports say yes; he

says no. But the fact that he's still such a topic, nearly a year after

his last Olympic swim, shows how much he's changed swimming. — Eric Adelson


Michael Phelps comeback isn't far-fetched | Photos: Team USA point guards | Photos: Coach K and his olympic career

Athens 2004 Olympic Games - Day 1 - Swimming - Men's 400m Individual Medley - Finals

Michael Phelps of the United States wins the Olympic gold and sets a new world record in men's 400m Individual Medley in 4:08:26 before compatriot Erik Vendt (L) and Hungary's Laszlo Cseh (R) at the Olympic Aquatic Centre in Athens, Greece, August 14, 2004. (Photo by Chris Ivin/WireImage)

Mens 4x100m Medley Relay Medal Ceremony

ATHENS - AUGUST 21: Michael Phelps and Lenny Krayzelburg of the United States congratulate Ian Crocker and Jason Lezak of the United States relay team that won the gold medal and set a new world record of 3:30.68 in the men's swimming 4 x 100 metre medley relay competition on August 21, 2004 during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games at the Main Pool of the Olympic Sports Complex Aquatic Centre in Athens, Greece. Phelps and Krayzelburg will also receive gold medals for swimming the relay in the preliminaries. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Mens 200m Free Medal Ceremony

ATHENS - AUGUST 16: Bronze medalist Michael Phelps of USA greets gold medalist Ian Thorpe of Australia as they stand on the podium during the medal ceremony for the men's swimming 200 metre freestyle event on August 16, 2004 during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games at the Main Pool of the Olympic Sports Complex Aquatic Centre in Athens, Greece.. Pieter Van Den Hoogenband finshed third. (Photo by Stuart Hannagan/Getty Images)

Mens 200m Butterfly Medal Ceremony

ATHENS - AUGUST 17: (L-R) Takashi Yamaoto of Japan, Michael Phelps of USA and Stephen Parry of Great Britain pose with their medals for the men's swimming 200 metre butterfly event on August 17, 2004 during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games at the Main Pool of the Olympic Sports Complex Aquatic Centre in Athens, Greece. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

Athens 2004 Olympic Games - Day 4 - Swimming - Men's 4x200m Freestyle Relay Final

USA (Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Peter Vanderkaay,Klete Keller) beat Australia and win gold in the Men's 4x200m Freestyle Relay in a time of 7:07.33 Michael Phelps collects his second gold of the night. (Photo by Chris Ivin/WireImage)

Olympische Spiele Athen 2004

ATHENS, GREECE - AUGUST 19: Schwimmen: Olympische Spiele Athen 2004, Athen; Lagen 200m / Maenner; Michael PHELPS / USA, gewinnt sein 4. Gold dieser Olympischen Spiele 19.08.04. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Athens 2004 Olympic Games - Day 7 - Swimming - Men's 100m Butterfly Final

Michael Phelps of the United States wins the Men's 100m Butterfly gold medal at the Olympic Aquatic Centre in Athens Greece on August 20, 2004. Phelps set a new olympic record time of 51.25 seconds. (Photo by Allen Kee/WireImage)

Mens 4x100m Free Relay Finals

ATHENS - AUGUST 15: Michael Phelps of USA looks on as the relay team of South Africa stand on the podium after breaking the world record and winning gold in the men's swimming 4 x 100 metre freestyle relay final on August 15, 2004 during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games at the Main Pool of the Olympic Sports Complex Aquatic Centre in Athens, Greece. (Photo by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images for FINA)

Olympics Day 2 - Swimming

BEIJING - AUGUST 10: Michael Phelps of the United States receives the gold medal during the medal ceremony for the Men's 400m Individual Medley event held at the National Aquatics Center during day 2 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 10, 2008 in Beijing, China. Michael Phelps of the United States finshed the race in a time of 4:03:84, a new World Record. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Olympics Day 3 - Swimming

BEIJING - AUGUST 11: Michael Phelps of the United States poses with the gold medal during the medal ceremony for the Men's 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay held at the National Aquatics Center on Day 3 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 11, 2008 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

Olympics Day 4 - Swimming

BEIJING - AUGUST 12: Michael Phelps of the United States poses with the gold medal during the medal ceremony for the Men's 200m Freestyle held at the National Aquatics Center on Day 4 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 12, 2008 in Beijing, China. Michael Phelps of the United States finished the race in first place in a time of 1:42.96 and wins the gold medal and sets a new World Record. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Olympics Day 5 - Swimming

BEIJING - AUGUST 13: Michael Phelps of the United States poses with the gold medal during the medal ceremony for the Men's 200m Butterfly held at the National Aquatics Center on Day 5 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 13, 2008 in Beijing, China. Michael Phelps of the United States finished the race in a time of 1.52.49 a new World Record. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

Olympics Day 5 - Swimming

BEIJING - AUGUST 13: (L-R) Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Ricky Berens and Peter Vanderkaay of the United States pose with the gold medal on the podium during the medal ceremony for the Men's 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay Final at the National Aquatics Centre during Day 5 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 13, 2008 in Beijing, China. The United States won the race in a time of 6:58.56, a new World Record. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

Olympics Day 7 - Swimming

BEIJING - AUGUST 15: Gold medalist Michael Phelps of the United States poses during the medal ceremony for the Men's 200m Individual Medley Final at the National Aquatics Center on Day 7 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 15, 2008 in Beijing, China. Phelps won in a new world record time of 1.54.23. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Olympics Day 8 - Swimming

BEIJING - AUGUST 16: Gold medalist Michael Phelps of the United States waves during the medal ceremony for the Men's 100m Butterfly Final held at the National Aquatics Centre during Day 8 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 16, 2008 in Beijing, China. By winning gold in the Men's 100m Butterfly Phelps tied Mark Spitz's record of winning seven gold medals in a single Olympic Games. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Olympics Day 9 - Swimming

BEIJING - AUGUST 17: Michael Phelps stands between teammates Brendan Hansen and Jason Lezak of the United States after winning the gold medal in the Men's 4x100 Medley Relay at the National Aquatics Centre during Day 9 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 17, 2008 in Beijing, China. The United States team set a new world record with a time of 3:29:34. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

Olympics Day 2 - Swimming

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 29: (L-R) Adrian Nathan, Ryan Lochte, Cullen Jones and Michael Phelps of the United States pose with the silver medals won during the Men's 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay final on Day 2 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on July 29, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Olympics Day 4 - Swimming

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 31: Silver medallist Michael Phelps of the United States poses with his medal during the medal ceremony for the Men's 200m Butterfly final on Day 4 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on July 31, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Olympics Day 4 - Swimming

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 31: Gold Medallist Michael Phelps of the United States celebrates following the medal ceremony for the Men's 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay final on Day 4 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on July 31, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Olympics Day 6 - Swimming

Gold medallist Michael Phelps (R) of the United States shakes hands with Silver medallist Ryan Lochte of the United States on the podium during the medal ceremony for the Men's 200m Individual Medley final on Day 6 nof the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on August 2, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Olympics Day 7 - Swimming

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 03: Gold medallist Michael Phelps of the United States poses on the podium during the medal ceremony for the Men's 100m Butterfly Final on Day 7 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on August 3, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Olympics Day 8 - Swimming

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 04: Gold medallists (L-R) Brendan Hansen, Matthew Grevers, Michael Phelps and Nathan Adrian of the United States celebrate following the medal ceremony for the Men's 4x100m Meldey Relay Final on Day 8 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on August 4, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

What to read next

By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes