By Sharon Robb
WEST PALM BEACH—Swimming great Michael Phelps is making a rare South Florida appearance next month.
The most decorated Olympic athlete in history with 28 medals, including a record 23 gold, will be keynote speaker at the Palm Beach Post’s first Best of the Preps banquet, Friday, May 24 at Palm Beach County Convention Center.
Phelps, who competed at five Summer Olympics, will hold a question-and-answer session during his appearance.
The Palm Beach Post and Phelps will celebrate and honor the accomplishments of the 2018-2019 high school student-athletes at the inaugural Best of Palm Beach County Preps awards banquet.
The Palm Beach Post is the only newspaper in South Florida to honor its high school athletes at a banquet with a keynote speaker of such stature.
“Mark your calendars now. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime evening that our high school athletes, families and coaches will never forget,” Palm Beach Post Publisher Tim Burke said in a recent story in the popular newspaper.
The Best of the Preps banquet is sponsored by Florida Crystals, Keiser University and Virgin Trains USA, formerly Brightline. It will honor Palm Beach County high school athletes who earned first-team honors for the fall, winter and spring sports. The male and female athletes of the year in each sport will be announced that night as well as the overall Male and Female Athletes of the Year and Coach of the Year.
The banquet will also feature a sit-down dinner.
Since his retirement from swimming in August 2016, the Baltimore native started the Michael Phelps Foundation, which focuses on growing the sport of swimming and promoting healthier lifestyles. He recently has been focusing on mental health issues, specifically working with teenagers on bullying on social media and dealing with severe depression and anxiety and has been quite candid with sharing his own experiences with depression. He also has partnered his foundation with KidsHealth.org to launch a mental health program for at-risk youth.
The 33-year-old Phelps and his wife Nicole, the parents of two boys, 2-year-old Boomer and 14-month old Beckett, are expecting their third child. They now reside in the Arizona desert in Paradise Valley.
If asked about coming out of retirement for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Phelps will shoot that idea down.
“For me, there’s no way. Just because I don’t have any goals. I have no goals I want to accomplish in the pool,” Phelps said. “If I did, I think it would be fun to come back, but it’s time to keep turning the page.
“We have a ton of stuff going on and stuff I’m really excited about, being able to talk about water conservation and being able to talk about mental health,” Phelps said. “There’s so many things that are big passions of mine and that keep me going.”
The event is Friday, May 24, 6-9 p.m. Tickets are $50 each and may be purchased at the link http://palmbeachpost.com/pbcpreps.
Deadline to purchase tickets is May 17th unless it sells out earlier. The general admission ticket includes dinner, the awards ceremony and Phelps. The Palm Beach County Convention Center is located at 650 Okeechobee Blvd. in West Palm Beach, right off I-95.
ATKINSON WINS GOLD
After a slow start, SOFLO’s four-time Jamaican Olympian won a gold medal on her final day of competition in the recent TYR Pro Swim Series at the Collegiate School Aquatics Center in Richmond, Va. The 30-year-old won the 50-meter breaststroke in 30.58, fourth fastest time in the world and under the World Championships “A” standard of 31.22.
MARCOUX GETS TRIALS CUT
Florida Gold Coast and Yale swimmer Philippe Marcoux made his Olympic trial cut in the 50-meter freestyle recently at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre. The Canadian and Fort Lauderdale High graduate swam a career-best 23.15 at the April 7 Canadian Swimming Trials. It was one of six events he swam. He also went 59.11 in the 100 backstroke, 24.69 in the 50 butterfly, 50.77 in the 100 freestyle, 56.14 in the 100 butterfly and 1:56.37 in the 200 freestyle.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com