SAN ANTONIO (AFP) - With less than a year remaining before Olympic Games in Rio, Michael Phelps had pledged to stay clear of any form of alcohol.
The American swimming star's drinking has twice gotten him in trouble with the law and went to court last year over his second driving under the influence charge. He went to rehab for 45 days and enrolled in Alcoholics Anonymous.
"I said to myself that I'm not going to drink until after Rio - if I ever drink again," he told the Associated Press. "That was a decision I made for myself."
Phelps has competed in every Summer Olympics since 2004 and has a total of 22 medals, including the all-time record of 18 golds.
It has been a bumpy road for the 30-year-old though since he ended his near two-year retirement that followed the 2012 Games.
His comeback looked well on track when he booked his berth last year for this season's world championships in Kazan, Russia. But he was denied that trip as part of the sanctions handed down in the wake of his drunk-driving arrest last September.
Instead Phelps headlines the action at the United States swimming championships that start in San Antonio on Thursday.
"Ever since that decision was made, the focus was turned to this," he said."I think this is a test for me - (to see) if I can kind of get back to where it didn't matter who was in the pool, it didn't matter who was racing as long as I raced myself."
Lately his biggest personal challenges have come outside of the pool. In the wake of his second drunk-driving episode Phelps attended inpatient addiction treatment as well as Alcoholics Anonymous.
In April Phelps described the process as "brutal," but says it has brought him to a more peaceful place.
"I guess I was just able to really understand who I am and be OK with who I am," he said. "I'm able to wake up every day and be happy with who I am and be happy with what I'm doing."
He has already taken note of the world-leading 1min 53.48sec put up by Hungarian Laszlo Cseh, an old rival who also turns 30 this year, in winning the 200m butterfly world title on Wednesday.
"He hasn't been close to that since 2008," said Phelps, whose world record of 1:51.51 was set back in 2009. "That's a great swim, and he split it out really well too. That's just what I'm looking at ... what kind of splits I can put up."
In June Phelps won the 200m fly at a meeting in Santa Clara with a time of 1:58.06 - a three-second improvement over his time the month before in Charlotte.
Although he once vowed he wouldn't race it again, the 200m fly appears to be back on Phelps's Rio radar and will be a key event for him this week along with the 100m fly and 200m individual medley - both events he could shoot for at the 2016 Games.