Michael Phelps met the US media at a news conference at the US Olympic Media Summit, a three-day gathering of American athletes at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas on Sunday as they train on for the London 2012 Games.
There has never been a golden count like it: 16 Olympic medals, 14 of them for winning, all owned by one man, swimmer Michael Phelps, the greatest Olympian in history (Mr Bolt might wish he could run sideways and backwards but hasn't quite got a world-class handle on what it means to be best ever on free, 'fly, medley and be world top 3 on backstroke too all at the same time).
One count remains as an Olympic target to hot: 18 medals overall is the best tally ever. The record belongs to Larisa Latynina, a Soviet gymnast on the podium at four Games that ended with a 1964 swansong in Tokyo.
The Cold War no longer part of the picture, the 78-year-old Russian sporting matriarch and the American super fish met at a photo shoot in New York of late. She gave him a medal from a gymnastics competition between the USA and the USSR from back in the 1950s. "That's probably been one of the coolest things that I've received," said Phelps. "The language barrier was a little tough, but she had a translator. It was an honour to meet somebody's who is such a legend and an icon especially in the Olympic movement. It was definitely pretty cool."
Phelps may race again after London 2012 but this summer will mark an Olympic swansong of his own. "I've said I don't want to swim past the age of 30," said Phelps, 27 next month. "I definitely would love to go to Rio and be able to just be there for support, see what it is like on the other side of the fence and just enjoy it." Not before having a last crack at writing another line in a history book full of Phelps's achievements. "In a way, it's kind of cool that there is a possibility to rewrite history," he said.
There were moments after Beijing 2008, and even more so after Rome 2009 world titles, when it looked like Phelps might not make it as far as London. He got back enough motivation to make it to Shanghai 2011 world titles and provide an excellent account of himself once more. The sting: a brace of silver medals behind teammate Ryan Lochte, in the 200m freestyle and then the 200m medley in a race that saw the Florida Gator snap the first and only world mark inside a shiny suit time since the ban on booster apparel on January 1, 2010.
"He was just like kind of rolling over me," Phelps said of Lochte. "It wasn't fun to be on that end, and it was something that was very motivating for me."
As to his London 2012 programme, no surprise to find the secret still locked in the heads of two men, Phelps and the maestro to a sensational swimming symphony, Baltimore coach Bob Bowman.
"I don't know that we need to give the competition any more ammunition than they already have," Bowman said. Phelps adds that the Baltimore pool partners will put together "the best schedule that gives me the best opportunity to really succeed. We're not going to overload, or try to overload, events that will take away from others. It's just not worth it."
One thing Phelps was prepared to divulge as he repeated: "I know it won't be eight medals again," he said. "… I'm going out there to try to accomplish the things that I have in my mind and in my heart. If I can do that and I can have fun then that's all that really matters to me."
Bowman told me last year that he was certain Phelps would give a "fine account of himself" at London. That means hitting targets with the precision of darts through the pupil of a bullseye. "Once I hang my suit up," Phelps told the media summit, "I want to be able to look back and say, 'I've done everything I could in my career.'."
Which may include the mantle that Latynina has worn wince 1964 to add to the coat of mainly one colour that Phelps started to sew with six gold medals in 2004, four years after making his first Olympic final aged 15.