Just saw an article reporting that Michael Phelps was arrested Monday night for DUI. He had been arrested for DUI once before, back in 2004.
Phelps was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder as a 9-year-old, and his success in swimming has often been framed as an inspirational victory over his ADHD. But really, his swimming didn't overcome his ADHD so much as just channel it. He expended all that extra energy in the pool, and, since he was built freakishly well for swimming and was a ferocious competitor, he became a champion.
But ADHD is not something that just leaves you when you win a bunch of medals. It's always going to be a part of you. So Phelps, when he is not swimming, is not the type to be able to just curl up with a good book and feel content. He's too easily bored, and by nature restless. He needs more active distractions, like poker, or golf, or women.
The circumstances of this recent DUI were onerous. It happened on a Monday night, not a normal party night. (You'd think it would be a training day for him, meaning that he should be getting his sleep). He tested at roughly twice the legal limit. It happened at 1:40 AM, which means that when he starts drinking, he has a hard time just stopping. The worst part was that he was going 84 mph in a 45 mph zone, which means he can't handle his drinking: it either makes him feel invulnerable, or makes him sloppy. Either way, he becomes dangerous.
Granted, he's 29 and not a kid anymore. After all those years of being disciplined anybody would want to cut loose, especially if you're feted wherever you go. (He did seem to do a lot of partying in Las Vegas and elsewhere after Beijing.) And it's not as if he has anything left to prove in his chosen sport. But, partying doesn't have to mean getting out of control.
Sometimes I think that certain celebrities would be better off if they were less secure financially. If you know you have to report to work at 9 the next morning, you'd be less inclined to get drunk on a Monday night.
Sooner or later, we're going to hear about Phelps entering rehab.
In the meantime, the best thing Phelps can do is stick with competitive swimming, which will at least keep him on a somewhat straight and narrow path.
In fact, he'd be better off expanding his current repertoire to the 200 fly, which would require more training -- and sleep -- than he is currently getting.
Addendum, 10/5/14. It was sooner, not later. Phelps just announced he's entering rehab, although he didn't specify what sort of facility.