A run-of-the-mill local news shoot at a Silicon Valley swim meet became an opportunity for the most decorated Olympian of all-time to photobomb a friend.
Michael Phelps photobombed NBC Bay Area’s interview with fellow Olympian Allison Schmitt.
The news crew was at the George F. Haines International Swim Center in Santa Clara on Thursday to cover the Arena Grand Prix Series. The event provides the U.S National Team and other elite swimmers with the opportunity to prepare for championship events taking place later on this year.
The story of the photobombing goes like this: As the crew started setting up its cameras, USA Swimming’s Scott Leightman directed our cameras toward a hidden tent near the back of the pool where other film crews and staff members were clearly all staring in one direction. They were all gawking at Michael Phelps, legendary winner of 22 Olympic medals.
With a hat on his head and sunglasses, Phelps was hard to recognize. He lay shirtless in bright neon green shorts on a table, enjoying the end of his massage after a big press conference. Though he was unavailable for one-on-one interviews, the crew was pleasantly surprised when Phelps walked on over to our cameras and photobombed our interview with Schmitt.
Leightman captured another angle of the photobombing incident and posted it to his Twitter feed.
Morning fun at #ArenaGPSC. @MichaelPhelps selfie photobombing @arschmitty during @nbcbayarea interview #funnestsport pic.twitter.com/pK9sGFWZsW — Scott Leightman (@scottleightman) June 19, 2014
The 18-time Olympic champion said that he's focused on this weekend's meet, where he is entered in the 100-meter freestyle and 100 butterfly Friday, the 200 freestyle Saturday and the 200 individual medley Sunday.
``I'd like to see where I am at the end of this meet,'' Phelps said. ``I hope to get out with some positive swims that will help me move forward to the nationals.''
Santa Clara represents the final major event before the U.S. nationals in August when swimmers will qualify for the 2015 world championships.
``I'm a goal-oriented person,'' said Phelps, who will turn 29 at the end of the month. ``You guys won't know until it happens. I let my swimming do the talking.''
The Arena Grand Prix attracts nearly 60 National Team members, U.S Olympians and medalists, as well as a number of international competitors.
The meet is Phelps' third since ending his retirement two months ago and, possibly, his most ambitious. He swam in two events in each of his past two meets.
Coach Bob Bowman said Phelps would be competitive if he decides to give it a go in the Olympics.
- Raw video: Phelps Photobombs News Crew
``He's good enough,'' Bowman said. ``Instead of a four-year plan, we're on a four-hour plan. We'll see how he holds up after this meet.''
For more information on the Arena Grand Prix Series, visit usaswimming.org/grandprix
Geoffrey Eisler and the Associated Press contributed to this report.