Michael Phelps, Details Cover

Norman Jean Roy

E News from London blog tile

Michael Phelps has a need for speed in the swimming pool. But a need for marijuana? Not so much.

Just weeks away from the London Olympics and what he's announced will be his final games, the pro swimmer and 16-time medalist is finally opening up about that notorious photo that surfaced of him toking on a bong back in 2009.

So does Phelps regret the controversy it caused, which surprisingly turned out to have very little impact on his previously squeaky-clean reputation?

"It was a learning experience," the 27-year-old athlete told Details in the cover story of its August issue hitting newsstands Wednesday.

After racking up a record eight (count 'em, eight!) gold medals at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, it's easy to see how the guy felt entitled to let his rigorous workout routine go for once and ended up partaking in a little R&R of that type. But that doesn't mean, in reflecting back on the uproar the pic sparked, that it wasn't an error in judgment.

"I'm the kind of person who has to go through the learning experiences myself. Somebody could tell me, 'If you eat this much you'll be fat,' and I'd be like, 'Yeah, okay, let me try it,'" Phelps said. "I'll be the first to say I've made thousands of mistakes, but I've never made the same mistake twice."

And now he's training his sights on a career-capping run in London for seven more gold medallions to go along with the 14 gold and two bronze he already has on his mantel, thus further cementing his place as one of America's greatest Olympic champions.

"At this point in my career, everybody has caught up. So I'm fine-tuning the little things that add up to make a huge difference," added the superstar.

However, given Phelps' senior status in the swim world, it won't be without its challenges.

"I've always said I wouldn't swim past 30," he noted. "I don't want to be that guy who's hanging on, but I want to reach my max potential. I don't care how much pain I have to go through or the sacrifices I have to make. I'll get it."

And, at least for the time being, without the aid of a water pipe.

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