When he's not winning gold medals, the swimmer relaxes with the documentary series Planet Earth

By Cynthia Wang
Updated August 14, 2008 07:30 AM
Credit: INF

Although there were no golds on the line Thursday, Michael Phelps won his 200-meter individual medley semifinal heat – and was just one-100th of a second behind his friend Ryan Lochte going into Friday’s final.

Otherwise, the down day offered Phelps a rare chance to relax during his jam-packed Olympics schedule. So what does the “greatest Olympian of all time” do to unwind?

Planet Earth, the documentary, is pretty much all I’ve been watching,” he told reporters of the Emmy-winning BBC and Discovery series. (At the last Olympics in Athens, Phelps got pumped up by watching the hockey flick Miracle over and over.)

“It probably helps him,” Phelps’s longtime coach Bob Bowman said of the TV routine. “Michael likes to relax before a swim.”

Bowman also broke down Phelps’s day for reporters. “At eight thirty we were on a bus to here [to the National Aquatics Center], then we did some stretching and warm-ups for thirty to forty minutes,” he said. “Then he puts on his suit and does more warm-ups. Then he swims.”

After each race, it’s simply rinse and repeat. “Then he’ll eat, take a nap, and then come back on the bus and do it all again, usually twice a day,” he explained. “He’s always done these things, really.”

Phelps, 23, has already won five gold medals – with five world-record times. He has his sights set on three more races in his quest for a historic eight golds. On deck: Friday’s 200-meter individual medley, Saturday’s 100-meter butterfly and Sunday’s 4×100-meter medley relay.