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Originally published Thursday, February 18, 2010 at 8:26 PM

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Phelps is a fish out of water at Winter Olympics

Michael Phelps visited the Winter Games as a fan on Thursday, and seeing the athletes in action had him anticipating his own final run at Olympic gold in two years.

AP Sports Writer

VANCOUVER, British Columbia —

Michael Phelps visited the Winter Games as a fan on Thursday, and seeing the athletes in action had him anticipating his own final run at Olympic gold in two years.

The 14-time gold medalist made two things clear - he won't be swimming in eight events at the 2012 London Games, and he won't be competing past 30.

"I told myself I will not swim over the age of 30, and I will NOT swim over the age of 30," he said.

Phelps will be 27 in London, when he expects to close out a career that already has him as the winningest Olympian in history with five more gold medals than anyone else. He broke Mark Spitz's record of seven gold medals in a single Olympics at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Being in Vancouver as a spectator inspires him to push on toward a fourth Olympics.

"I can't tell you how many memories I've had go through my head just watching these guys compete," he said.

Phelps began his five-day visit to Vancouver by watching the United States beat Norway 6-1 in men's hockey, just the second time he's ever seen the sport in person. His coach Bob Bowman went off to the men's figure skating final while Phelps attended an event for Omega, one of his sponsors.

"Being able to see and hear the guys going up against the boards was incredible," said Phelps, who sat four rows off the ice. "Being able to see the speed of the game, it was amazing. I definitely want to go back to (Sunday's) U.S.-Canada game."

He also wants to catch fellow American Apolo Anton Ohno compete in short track speedskating, which he pronounced as "awesome."

The lobby of the Fairmont hotel in downtown Vancouver was buzzing with a crowd anticipating Phelps' arrival. He swept through wearing a puffy silver jacket over his dark suit and tie as girls screamed his name and held up camera phones.

The chaos continued outside when Phelps climbed into a red bobsled at a photo opportunity across the street while the crowd pressed against a metal railing for a better view. He later presented a watch from his sponsor to Alexandre Bilodeau, who won Canada's first gold medal of these games in moguls.

A Canadian woman held up a sign asking, "Will you sign my banana?" that had the fruit attached.

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Then it was up to the hotel's penthouse, where he visited with waves of international media.

Phelps will return to his hometown of Baltimore on Monday to resume training. His biggest meet this year comes in August at the Pan Pacific championships, where the U.S. team for next year's world championships will be chosen.

He's added weightlifting, running and boxing to his dry-land training as a way to alleviate the boredom of staring at a black line on the bottom of a pool every day.

"Your core body has to be in better shape and being able to do these other things works muscles I haven't worked before," he said, noting the swimming world has banned the high-tech suits that turned the sport upside down in recent years.

Phelps won't be sitting around when retirement beckons. He wants to expand the swim schools he's opened and continue working with kids.

"If I have the opportunity to help some kid accomplish their lifetime dreams or goals, you can't really put into words what that will mean," he said.

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