Recruiting gold: Phelps wants to coach ASU swim team

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                </div>  It was considered a real hiring coup when the Arizona State swimming program was able to bring in Bob Bowman as its new head coach, a move designed to begin […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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It was considered a real hiring coup when the Arizona State swimming program was able to bring in Bob Bowman as its new head coach, a move designed to begin the process of taking the Sun Devil program to the next level nationally.

Now, you have to wonder if the brain trust in the ASU athletic department knew they could be getting a package deal that would also bring in a powerful recruiting tool within a short time.

According to reports spreading throughout media outlets across the country, Michael Phelps has indicated he plans to join Bowman’s coaching staff as a volunteer assistant for the 2016-17 season.  That would give the world-famous winner of 22 Olympic medals – 18 gold – time to compete in one more Olympics, next summer in Brazil.

When Bowman, a widely-recognized icon and one of the most respected coaches in the sport, was hired last April, he was still coaching Phelps at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club in Maryland, but moved his training site to Arizona when he accepted the ASU job.  Phelps followed him to the desert.

Phelps is 30 now and expected to retire following the 2016 Olympics, where he could win three more gold medals. Moving into coaching would provide him a way to stay connected with the sport – and what better mentor than Bowman to have as he learns that side of the sport.

“I don’t think I’ll be able to go far from the sport because it’s a part of me,” he recently said in a media interview, reflecting on what he would do when he is done with competitive swimming.

And Phelps has made it clear he loves his new home in Tempe and the outdoor training environment he can enjoy year-round in the desert. That’s a huge bonus for someone who has spent his entire athletic career in winter climates that kept him holed up in indoor pools like the one he trained in for many years at his Maryland club.

His enthusiasm for his new home in the desert, and the ASU swimming program in particular, will go a long way in his recruiting efforts on behalf of the Sun Devils.

As one of the world’s most recognizable sports figures, a little phone work to potential recruits would have immeasurable results.  And what kid wouldn’t welcome an in-home visit from the all-star team of Bowman and Phelps?

Phelps has had to deal with some negative publicity over the past few years after a couple of DUI convictions, and he and his fiance, Nicole Johnson, aren’t married yet, but are expecting a child.  While that may give ASU administrators some cause for concern as they weigh any adverse affect on the image of the school, it will likely not deter young recruits from soaking in the stardom.  What they will see is a chance to train with the most decorated Olympian in history.

Just the nation-wide media exposure from his decision to coach at ASU has already been a publicity boon for the swimming program, bringing with it an expanded visibility that the hire of Bowman alone couldn’t accomplish.

Whether Phelps secures any of those gold medals he’s chasing next summer, his name is going to be in the news leading up to the Olympics and all during the Games.

And all that attention is going to translate to recruiting gold that he will bring back to the Sun Devil program.