Phelps gets social ahead of final Olympic race

Michael Phelps spent at least part of Saturday morning responding to messages on Twitter, the end of his Olympic career just hours away.

Well wishes came in from friends and teammates. He thanked the actor Jeremy Piven, who called the swimmer "inspiring." Phelps also retweeted a message from Samuel L. Jackson that seemed more likely to have come from a parody account but was from the Oscar nominee's actual verified feed.

He basically called Phelps a bad -- well -- you know.

Phelps swears London will be his last Olympics. He wants to see more of the world than its hotels and pools and would like to continue to build the sport of swimming, a longtime goal.

So his Olympic career will end Saturday night in the men's 400-meter medley relay with Phelps swimming his signature stroke, the butterfly, in a race the U.S. is favored to win.

Another medal will give him 22, another gold would be No. 18 -- he has both Olympic records already. To put that last number into perspective: Larisa Latynina, the Soviet gymnast who Phelps passed here for the all-time Olympic medal lead, had 18 total medals. Phelps could end with the same number of golds.

"I thought it would hit me harder than what it is right now," Phelps said Friday night, reflecting on his last Olympics after winning his final individual race, the 100 fly.

"A lot of those emotions haven't really come through my brain in the last week. Once I'm done, there's going to be a lot more emotion. I'm kind of in a meet mode. You have 15 or 16 sessions, you start and then you finish and then it's over."

Phelps cut his workload to seven events here after swimming eight the past two games. He has won five medals in the first six, including three more golds and the first two silvers of his Olympic career.

U.S. swimmers have won 28 swimming medals so far, more than half the country's overall haul in London and more than any other nation's overall total except China.

They should add to the total Saturday.

Only a royal screw-up will keep the men's 400 medley team off the podium, and the women will swim the same race with 17-year-old Missy Franklin chasing her fifth medal and fourth gold. Jessica Hardy qualified for the women's 50 freestyle final and Connor Jaeger will go in the men's 1,500 free.

But no one will share a lot of the spotlight with Phelps the way Franklin and 15-year-old Katie Ledecky did Friday night.

Saturday belongs to Phelps, the winningest Olympian of all time in his last Olympic race.